Iowa Supreme Court Kills Governor’s Bid to Reinstate Abortion Ban

By Published on June 16, 2023

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday in a much-anticipated decision that it would not reinstate a law that would ban most abortions in the state.

In 2019, a district court blocked a law that would have barred most abortions in Iowa after a heartbeat is detected, but following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds petitioned the court to reinstate the law, according to the Associated Press. The court, in a 3-3 ruling, failed to reach a majority on Reynold’s petition just days before the anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center decision, according to the opinion.

The ruling leaves in effect the current law banning abortions before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“It would be ironic and troubling for our court to become the first state supreme court in the nation to hold that trash set out in a garbage can for collection is entitled to more constitutional protection than a woman’s interest in autonomy and dominion over her own body,” the majority ruling reads.

Two justices wrote dissenting opinions that called out their colleagues for ignoring the Supreme Court’s “wisdom” in the Dobbs decision, according to the ruling. Justice Christopher McDonald wrote that the three justices who declined the petition had exchanged “actual law” for hypothetical, with Justice Matthew McDermott writing in his dissent that the court had failed the “parties, the public, and the rule of law.”

Planned Parenthood of North Central States, which filed a lawsuit against Reynolds after she announced her intention to reinstate the heartbeat protections, cheered the court’s decision Friday.

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“Today’s decision is an enormous win, and it means that Iowans will be able to control their bodies and their futures,” Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said to the DCNF in a prepared statement. “Your ZIP code shouldn’t determine who controls your uterus. Each person deserves control of their body, and Iowans have that right, based on today’s court decision. Abortion bans make pregnancy more dangerous than it already is, and it shouldn’t matter which state you live in.”

Reynolds also addressed the court’s decision. The governor accused the court of ignoring Iowans’ expressed feelings on the subject and criticized the justices’ assertion that abortion is a “fundamental right.”

“But the fight is not over,” Reynolds said in a press release. “There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn. We are reviewing our options in preparation for continuing the fight.”


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