Waiting period

Iowa Gov. Reynolds signs law requiring 24 hour reflection period for abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Photo: Gage Skidmore

Pro-life Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds came through once again for the babies on Monday. The same day the Supreme Court handed down its foolish decision overturning a protective Louisiana law, Gov. Reynolds signed a law that provides an abortion-minded woman with a 24 hour wait-and-reflect period.

For her part, Gov. Reynolds said, “I am proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life. Life is precious, life is sacred, and we can never stop fighting for it. I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child.”

The bill “says a woman could not have an abortion for at least 24 hours after an initial appointment,” The Des Moines Register’s Stephen Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson reported. “At that appointment, the woman would have to be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound scan of the fetus and information about abortion and other options, including adoption.”

The bill passed as the legislative session came to an end in mid-June. The state House vote in favor was 53-42  while the margin in the state Senate was almost exactly two-to-one: 31-16.

With Reynolds’ signature, there are 29 states which have passed waiting period legislation, according to Ingrid Duran, Director of State Legislation for NRLC. “A waiting period before an abortion is not only critical to saving the lives of innocent children, it also ensures that women have the opportunity to weigh all of the facts prior to making a life-and-death decision,” Duran told NRL News Today.

As we reported, on June 23 Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit in Johnson County District Court, seeking an injunction against the bill. Yesterday PPH (joined by the ACLU) and the state were in front of Judge Mitchell Turner.

Gruber-Miller explained in his Monday story

The law is set to take effect Wednesday, unless Judge Turner issues a temporary injunction blocking it while the Planned Parenthood lawsuit is resolved.

Turner heard arguments Monday afternoon from Planned Parenthood and the state of Iowa over whether the law should be allowed to take effect before the lawsuit is decided. Reynolds had not signed the law at the time of the hearing. Turner said during the hearing that he would issue a ruling “as quickly as possible” once Reynolds signed the law.

PPH wants a temporary injunction and then persuade Judge Reynolds strike it down as unconstitutional.

“Assistant Iowa Attorney General Thomas Ogden, who represented Reynolds, the Iowa Board of Medicine and the state of Iowa, argued that Planned Parenthood has not met the legal threshold to block the law from taking effect while the challenge continues to be argued,” Gruber-Miller reported.

“When somebody comes in and asks to block what the Legislature, the elected representatives of the people, have done, they have a high burden that they have to meet in order to convince the court do that,” he said. “And we don’t think that they’ve done that here.”

Ogden also argued Planned Parenthood hadn’t made a strong enough case for why it should be allowed to bring the lawsuit, rather than allowing a woman seeking an abortion to sue directly.

This is not the first time Iowa has had a law requiring a waiting period on the books. In 2017, Iowa passed a law requiring that women wait 72 hours before having an abortion, be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound scan, and be provided with information about alternatives. 

The following year, however, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the law in a decision written by Chief Justice Mark Cady.

But there has been considerable turnover in the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court since 2018. “Reynolds, a Republican, has appointed four new justices to the court, replacing two Democrat-appointed justices and two Republican-appointed justices,” according to Sam SidesRepublican governors have now appointed six of the court’s members.”

In explaining the reasoning behind the 24-hour waiting period, Rep. Shannon Lundgren, the bill’s floor manager, said, “24 hours is not an unreasonable amount of time to think about a decision that impacts more than just one life,”

On the House floor, Lundgren also reminded colleagues that

other waiting periods in Iowa law, such as the three-day waiting period required after a child’s birth before a parent can put the child up for adoption and the 90-day period that must pass between the time a divorce decree is served and the marriage is dissolved

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