Judicial

Iowa argues courts should lift injunction on ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law, now that Roe has been overturned

By Dave Andrusko

I do admire headlines which accurately and completely captured the story. Exhibit A:  “With Roe v. Wade gone, Iowa argues courts should lift injunction on ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion ban.”

Katie Akin  of the rabidly pro-abortion Des Moines Register explained that in court filings attorneys for pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds argueda blocked six-week abortion ban should be allowed to go into effect, as recent court decisions have drastically changed the bedrock of Iowa law.”

Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law was passed in 2018 but put on hold during a challenge by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.  

Tony Leys, also of The Des Moines Register, wrote back then

In his decision striking down the abortion law, Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert cited the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling last year in a challenge to a different abortion-restriction law. The high court held that “a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution” in that ruling.

Of course that was before the ground dramatically shifted. 

First, on June 17th the Iowa Supreme Court overturned its 2018 decision that held that Iowans had a fundamental right to abortion under the state constitution. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Edward M. Mansfield said the previous ruling “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’.

Gov. Reynolds celebrated that reversal.

“Today’s ruling is a significant victory in our fight to protect the unborn. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed its earlier 2018 decision, which made Iowa the most abortion-friendly state in the country,” Reynolds said. “Every life is sacred and should be protected, and as long as I’m governor that is exactly what I will do.” 

The second fundamental change came a week later with the Supreme Court’s June 24th striking down Roe v. Wade. 

In a court filing Tuesday 

Reynolds’ attorney Alan Ostergren wrote that the reversal of those landmark decisions proves neither the Iowa nor U.S. Constitution “has ever protected a fundamental right to abortion.”

Therefore, Ostergren argues, “Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law was not unconstitutional when it was enacted in 2018. …

Ostergren added, according to Akin, “Following (the U.S. and Iowa Supreme Court decisions), no constitutional right to an abortion exists, strict scrutiny is no longer the test, and the viability line is no more.”

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