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Future of Iowa abortion law with 24-hour waiting period still up in the air

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:47 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Tuesday, an Iowa judge halted a law from going into effect Wednesday with a temporary injunction that would have required a woman to wait 24 hours before an abortion.

It is a momentary win for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU who sued the state, but the judge has yet to rule on the law for good.

The lawsuit to stop the law claims that it would delay the process for some women by weeks and require multiple doctor visits at a time when Iowans are discouraged from unnecessary contact.

Sara Riley, of Cedar Rapids, has practiced law for nearly 35 years. She isn’t involved in this case, but said a legal challenge can almost always be expected when it comes to abortion law.

“Anytime you have anything that is going to put any restrictions on the right to an abortion, Planned Parenthood or some other group is going to file a legal challenge,” Riley said.

In 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down an abortion law requiring a 72-hour waiting period. In that decision, it noted the Iowa Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion.

“My guess would be the court would find that it’s really a substantially similar bill and therefore under what they call stare decisis, we’ve already ruled this issue, you can’t keep bringing it up,” Riley said.

Since 2018, Gov. Kim Reynolds has appointed four new justices, the make-up of the Iowa Supreme Court is different. That now leaves only one judge on the court that is appointed by a Democrat. Riley said a justice should rule based on the constitution, not on political opinion.

“You can be appointed by a Republican, and you can know ‘okay, this Republican governor wants me to rule this way,‘” Riley said. “But if the law or the constitution is the opposite way of what the governor that appointed you wants you to rule, a good justice will rule opposite of who they’ve been appointed by.”

Riley said that aside, the focus of the case might come down to one thing: Is 24 hours too much of a restriction on a woman’s right to choose?

“The real question is, is 24 hours so much less than 72 hours?” Riley said. “It’s still requiring you to make two separate trips.”

After the judge’s ruling Tuesday, the case will proceed but the law will not go into effect as scheduled on Wednesday.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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