By Dave Andrusko
On Monday, as surely as day follows night, District Court Judge Mitchell Turner held that Iowa’s 2020 law requiring a 24 hour waiting period was unconstitutional. Judge Turner did so on two grounds but by far the most important was the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 decision which not only found a 72 hour waiting period unconstitutional but also concluded that women have a fundamental right to receive an abortion under the Iowa Constitution.
Judge Turner wrote, “Given this clear precedent, this Court finds that Petitioners have established that a twenty-four hour waiting requirement is an invasion or threatened invasion ‘upon the fundamental rights of the people.”
Equally as certain was that pro-life Iowa governor Kim Reynolds would appeal Judge Turner’s decision. Erin Murphy writes
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she is confident in her appeal of a recent ruling that struck down a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion, despite myriad state court rulings that have nullified similar laws.
Reynolds’ appeal puts the case on track for the Iowa Supreme Court.
“I absolutely don’t agree with the decision, and that’s what the process is for,” Reynolds said Wednesday during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol. “Certainly, we’ll be appealing that decision, and we’re pretty confident that we can get the outcome that we’re looking for.”
But those decisions came prior to many changes to the state’s highest court. “Five of the seven justices on the Iowa Supreme Court, including four of the five in the majority of the 2018 decision, have been replaced in the years since, all by justices appointed by [Gov. Kim] Reynolds,” report the Des Moines Register’s William Morris and Stephen Gruber-Miller
But pro-life Republican legislators are taking no chance. They have taken the first step to ensure that their laws are not subject to judicial fancy as was the case in 2018.
This year the legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would state that the Iowa Constitution does not secure a right to abortion. “Lawmakers would have to agree on the same language in 2023 or 2024 before the measure could appear on Iowa voters’ ballots in 2024 for an up or down vote,” the Des Moines Register’s Morris and Gruber-Miller reported. “If approved by a majority of Iowans, the language would then be added to the state’s constitution.”