Planned Parenthood files lawsuit to block Iowa’s 24-hour waiting period

By Dave Andrusko

The only surprising part of the decision by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to challenge Iowa’s new law requiring a 24 hour period of reflection after an abortion-minded woman has her first appointment is that it took over a week to file and before pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed the bill into law.

Yesterday they filed a lawsuit in Johnson County District Court seeking an injunction against the bill which passed June 14. The lawsuit can be read here.

As the legislative session came to an end in mid-June, the bill passed the state House on a vote of 53-42 and the state Senate by an almost two-to-one margin of 31-16.

“Waiting periods help ensure that decisions are made not under duress and not under undue influences,” State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville explained. “It’s the hope that after taking time to consider it, a woman would choose life over death.”

That’s not the way Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sees it. Erin Davison-Rippey, Planned Parenthood’s Iowa executive director, said at a press conference Tuesday “the waiting period would force women to go to an extra appointment before receiving an abortion. That is medically unnecessary and could take several extra days or even weeks,” reported Tony Leyes for the Des Moines Register. “Forced waiting periods do not change minds,” she said. 

Once Gov. Reynolds signs the bill, its implementation date is July 1.

The Des Moines Register’s Stephen Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson reported that “The bill says a woman could not have an abortion for at least 24 hours after an initial appointment. 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.”

Ingrid Duran, Director of State Legislation for NRLC, told NRL News Today, “Waiting periods before an abortion are critical for saving the lives of innocent children and ensuring that women have a right to know and weigh all of the facts prior to an abortion. Twenty-nine states have established laws ensuring that mothers are given a period of time to reflect before making a life and death decision,”

This is not the first time Iowa will have a waiting period. 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 Sides. Republican 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.