Iowa Supreme Court says there is no right to abortion

Iowa Supreme Court
The Iowa Judiciary Building, home of the Iowa Supreme Court, in Des Moines, Iowa. |

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled there is no right to abortion in the state constitution, which overturned an earlier ruling by the state’s highest court a few years earlier. .

In the case of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland et al. against Kim Reynolds et al., the state Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday, overturning a lower court ruling against the state’s 24-hour waiting period for an abortion and remanding for further proceedings.

Judge Edward Mansfield expressed the majority opinion, concluding that the court rejects “the proposition that there is a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution subjecting the regulation of abortion to rigorous scrutiny”.

“[T]he Iowa Constitution is not the source of a fundamental right to abortion requiring a strict standard of review for regulations affecting that right,” Mansfield wrote.

“Constitutions – and courts – should not choose sides in divisive social and political debates unless a universal principle of justice is on one side of that debate. Abortion is not one of those issues.

Mansfield also challenged the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion a state constitutional right, writing that the earlier ruling “lacks textual and historical support.”

“This is doctrinally inconsistent with prior Iowa family law case law that followed a balancing approach. His rhetoric is one-sided. Its constitutional basis is not solid,” he continued.

“While it is true that some other states have strengthened the protection of the right to abortion, they have done so by invoking more relevant substantive constitutional guarantees, such as the right to privacy, and not a procedural clause such as due process.”

Judge Brent Appel filed a dissenting opinion, arguing that in overturning the 2018 decision, the state Supreme Court created “a case law of doubt about an interest in liberty of the highest possible importance for each woman. of Iowa of childbearing age”.

“We have found [in 2018] that the fundamental interest of freedom in family relationships holds a place for reproductive choices,” Appel continued.

“We have thus declared that ‘autonomy and dominance over one’s body goes to the very heart of what it means to be free. At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without undue governmental intrusion, one’s own identity, destiny and place in the world.

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis Austen denounced the decision, calling it a “devastating and shocking reversal.”

“With the constitutional right to abortion under deer threatened, the people of Iowa rely on the protection of our state constitution,” Austen said.

“Abortion rights for Iowa women are essential to their freedom, equality, health and safety, and it’s something Iowa overwhelmingly supports, now more than ever.”

Urbandale, Iowa-based social conservative group The FAMiLY Leader celebrated the state Supreme Court’s decision, calling it a victory against judicial activism and for unborn children.

“In 2018, five unelected judges brazenly admitted ignoring the original meaning of the Iowa Constitution to invent a so-called ‘right’ to abortion,” said Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO. by The FAMILY Leader.

“Today’s decision brings us closer to the day when the people of Iowa can protect unborn children,” he added. “The future of abortion in Iowa remains uncertain. But this back and forth in the courts reveals that the Protect Life amendment is needed more than ever.

The Protect Life Amendment Vander Plaats is referring to was approved by both houses of the Iowa General Assembly last year and states that the state constitution “does not recognize, grant, or guarantee the right to abortion nor does it require public financing of abortion”. To go into effect, the Iowa General Assembly must pass the Protect Life Amendment in the next session, which begins next year, and voters must approve it in a referendum.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling comes as the country waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a case involving a Mississippi state law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationmany believe the U.S. Supreme Court case will overturn the landmark 1973 ruling Roe vs. Wade, which invalidated abortion restrictions prior to fetal viability. Politico released a leaked draft notice in the case last month, which said a majority of justices had expressed support for the overturning. deer and leave the issue of abortion to each state to decide. The Dobbs The decision should be made by the end of the month.

In the absence of Deer, Iowa would be able to enforce its law prohibiting abortions after six weeks of gestation. Iowa is one of 21 states that would completely ban abortion or more severely restrict abortion if deer is overturned. Sixteen states would continue to allow abortion during most or all of pregnancy because the right to abortion has been codified in state law, three states could take the issue of abortion to voters and the remaining 10 states will continue to enforce existing abortion laws and/or restrictions.

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