Iowa Supreme Court says abortion not protected by state constitution, approves 24-hour waiting period

The court concluded Friday that a 2018 decision was wrongly decided and should be overturned.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 9:12 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court said there is no source for a fundamental right to an abortion in Iowa’s Constitution and said the state can implement a 24-hour waiting period for women trying to have an abortion in a 5-2 decision released Friday morning.

The 67-page majority opinion, written by Justice Edward Mansfield, makes it easier for state lawmakers to limit or outlaw abortion in Iowa. It also reverses a 2018 decision from a less conservative court, which blocked a 72-hour waiting period and guaranteed the right to abortion under the Iowa Constitution.

Legal experts told TV9 in May, the 2018 decision would stop abortion from becoming illegal in Iowa if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this Summer. Politico obtained a draft opinion in May showing the United States Supreme Court is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s ability to receive an abortion.

The decision from the Iowa Supreme Court comes after Governor Kim Reynolds (R) named four new Justices since 2017. According to the AP, Republican governors appointed six of the seven Justices on the court.

Gov. Reynolds said the ruling is a victory for those who are anti-abortion advocates across the state of Iowa in an email statement.

“The Iowa Supreme Court reversed its earlier 2018 decision, which made Iowa the most abortion-friendly state in the country,” she said. “Every life is sacred and should be protected, and as long as I’m governor, that is exactly what I will do.”

Like Gov. Reynolds, Republicans are celebrating the court’s decision, while Democrats said the decision is a direct assault on the freedom of Iowa women to make their own health care decisions.

Sen. Zach Wahls (D-Coralville), who is the senate minority leader, said the Supreme Court’s decision was a disaster in an email statement. He said he believes state Republicans will try to completely ban abortion in Iowa.

“The Republican-controlled Supreme Court of the United States is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade — and Iowa Republican politicians have made it clear they want to completely ban abortion without exceptions as quickly as possible,” he said.

Statehouse Republicans began the process to amend the state constitution in 2021, which is a process that takes about four years. Those efforts came after the Iowa Supreme Court blocked lawmakers’ past efforts to limit abortion in Iowa.

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