Iowa Supreme Court extends TRO on new pro-life Iowa law

By Dave Andrusko

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady

In the latest legal development in Iowa’s new abortion law–SF 471, a law that prohibits abortions at 20-weeks and beyond and requires a 72 hour waiting period–the state Supreme Court has extended a temporary halt on the 72 hour waiting period. (To date, the abortion ban has not been challenged.)

In his order Tuesday, Chief Justice Mark Cady “highlighted a claim from Planned Parenthood that the organization has not yet received materials it is required under the new law to give women seeking abortions, including literature on risks associated with abortion and options such as putting a child up for adoption,” according to Grant Rodgers of the Des Moines Register. “The new law requires those materials to be produced by the Iowa Department of Public Health.”

Rodgers added that Planned Parenthood “argued in its request for justices to hear the case that the lack of material and further guidance from the Iowa Board of Medicine is leaving it without ‘critical information” on how to interpret the law.’”

As NRL News Today reported, last Friday morning at 8:30, pro-life Gov. Terry Brandstad signed SF 471 into law. Polk County District Court Judge Jeffrey Farrell immediately denied a request for a temporary restraining order, citing the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey which held that a 24-hour waiting period did not create an “undue burden” for abortion-seeking women.

Then, less than two hours after Branstad had signed the bill, the state Supreme Court granted Planned Parenthood’s and the ACLU’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).

Planned Parenthood complained that the 72 hour waiting period meant that women would have to visit the abortion clinics twice and charged that the new state law “violates the Iowa Constitution, citing a lack of due process and equal protection rights,” William Petroski of the Register reported.

Cady has ordered another district court hearing to be scheduled within 30 days. “The temporary injunction will expire 10 days after a district court judge issues another ruling,” according to Rodgers.

When he signed SF 471, Gov. Branstad said it was one of the most prolife bills passed in years. “I have been fighting for the unborn since I ran for the Legislature in 1972, and I have not stopped. I am really pleased with this General Assembly and the progress that was made,” Branstad said. “I think that this year was really a banner year for the pro-life movement. History was made this session.”

Jenifer Bowen, a spokeswoman for Iowa Right to Life, said it was an “amazing, historic day,” according to Petroski.

“We are seeing for the first time, quite possibly in Iowa history, a bill that will actually save lives,” Bowen said. “Babies 20 weeks in the womb will now be protected. We are incredibly excited about this opportunity and we are energized to continue to educate Iowans.”