Planned Parenthood throws in the towel, ends lawsuit challenging Iowa’s 24 hour requirement; Gov. Reynolds asks district court to lift the injunction of Iowa’s fetal heartbeat bill. 

By Dave Andrusko

Good news. After years and years of effort, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced last Friday that it is “voluntarily” dismissing its lawsuit challenging the requirement that women wait 24 hours after an initial appointment before getting an abortion.

“A lower court found the law to be unconstitutional, but the Iowa Supreme Court reversed that decision in June, overturning in the process a 2018 court ruling that held access to abortion was a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the state constitution,” William Morris  of the pro-abortion Des Moines Register reported.

On June 17, a week before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled “that the state’s constitution does not include a ‘fundamental right’ to abortion.” Writing the majority opinion, Justice Edward M. Mansfield said the previous ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion “insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake and we must disagree with the views of today’s dissent that ‘[t]he state does not have a legitimate interest in protecting potential life before viability’.

The ACLU represented Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. ACLU Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen issued a statement that the organization continues to oppose the 24-hour law.

“It was an extremely difficult decision to dismiss this case, knowing the harms that a mandatory delay law imposes on Iowans who need abortion care,” she said. “Iowa politicians should never have passed this law, which has no medical basis and only makes accessing abortion more difficult.”

Legislators are “in the process of drafting an amendment to the Iowa Constitution opposing abortion, and Gov. Kim Reynolds has indicated she hopes to revive an earlier law barring abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy that was struck down in an earlier court case,” Morris explained. 

Indeed, today Governor Reynolds filed a motion requesting the district court to lift the injunction of Iowa’s fetal heartbeat bill.

“The historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe has given us a new hope and pathway forward to challenge the Iowa court’s previous decision,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Life and death are determined by a person’s heartbeat, and I believe that includes our unborn children. As long as I’m Governor, I will stand up for the sanctity of life and fight to protect the precious and innocent unborn lives.”  

In 2018, the legislature passed and Gov. Reynolds signed a law outlawing abortion at six weeks, when the baby’s heartbeat can first be detected. A Polk County district court judge enjoined that law, prohibiting Iowa officials from enforcing it, based upon the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in PPH II where the Court erroneously created a fundamental right to abortion. Because the Iowa Supreme Court has now overruled that 2018 ruling and rejected the “strict scrutiny” standard it adopted, Gov. Reynolds has asked the district court to lift the injunction of the heartbeat law.