Unborn children get their day in Court as ADF asks the state’s Supreme Court to allow fetal heartbeat law to take effect

By Dave Andrusko

On abortion a great deal has changed in Iowa in the last half-decade. That will come to a head today as the state Supreme Court hears the case for and against the fetal heartbeat law in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys are serving as co-counsel alongside Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and local counsel Alan Ostergren. They are asking the state’s high court to allow the state’s 2018  fetal heartbeat law to take effect. The 2018 law protects unborn lives after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

“In 2019, a state trial court put the fetal heartbeat law on hold based on an Iowa Supreme Court decision that had found a state constitutional right to abortion. Last year, ADF attorneys helped persuade the Iowa Supreme Court to overrule that decision. So Reynolds is asking the court to lift the now-outdated injunction on the fetal heartbeat law,” the ADF explained in a press release.

The Des Moines Register, the state’s largest and most influential newspaper, never misses a chance to push the abortion agenda. To be fair, however, Katie Akin does yeoman’s work today.

She writes

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether a six-week abortion ban should be allowed to take effect in Iowa.

In the interim, abortion laws in Iowa and nationwide have been shaken by a string of recent court decisions.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled last summer that the state constitution does not protect a fundamental right to an abortion, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case. In response, Gov. Kim Reynolds asked the courts to lift their injunction on the six-week abortion ban and allow the law to take effect.

A district court judge ruled in December that the permanent injunction on the law would remain in place. Reynolds appealed that decision, sending the case to the Iowa Supreme Court.

According to court filings, lawyers representing the state will argue Tuesday that the law should be allowed to take effect, as the current legal landscape on abortion has changed significantly since courts first blocked the law in 2018.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic will urge the Supreme Court to dismiss the governor’s appeal and to agree with the district court that the injunction should remain in place. 

“Shaken,” indeed. On June 17, 2022, 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’.

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

In a court filing 

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. …

Attorneys for Gov. Reynolds also argued “that the trial court must, at least, take a new look at the six-week ban, given the Iowa Supreme Court’s June decision in Planned Parenthood of Heartland Inc. v. Reynolds ex rel. Iowa,” according to Pazanowski.