By Dave Andrusko
After being in effect for a little over two days, Polk County District Judge Joseph Seidlin agreed on Monday with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic, and the ACLU of Iowa and issued a temporary injunction against Iowa’s 2023 Heartbeat Law.
Pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds wasted no time in vowing to contest Judge Seidlin’s ruling.
“In their own words, the abortion industry stressed the need for a temporary injunction so they could continue with 200 scheduled abortions in the next two weeks. While Life was protected for a few days, now even more innocent babies will be lost.”
“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today, but I will fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn.”
Gov. Reynolds signed the fetal heartbeat law at about 2:45 p.m. on Friday even as the pro-abortion litigants were in Judge Seidlin’s court making their case for a temporary injunction. The law went into effect immediately.
The 2018 law was designed to protect unborn babies from abortion after the heartbeat has been detected, typically around the sixth week. The bill includes very limited exceptions: to preserve the life of the mother and for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
Just before signing the bill, Gov. Reynolds told a crowd at the Family Leadership Summit, “This week, in a rare and historic special session, the Iowa legislature voted for a second time to reject the inhumanity of abortion and pass the fetal heartbeat law.” She added, “The most glaring injustice of all is about to be put right. Everyone understands that a heartbeat signifies life, and we understand that when it falls silent, something precious has been lost.”
In his ruling, “Seidlin said he would grant the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction, blocking the law from taking effect while the lawsuit continues,” Stephen Gruber-Miller reported. According to the Register, even with the injunction, Judge Seidlin allowed the Iowa Board of Medicine to go forward with writing administrative rules to govern the law’s implementation.
“Doctors and critics of the law have raised concerns that without rules, it’s unclear whether doctors could face penalties for providing abortions, and how women could verify that they qualify for the law’s exceptions,” Gruber-Miller explained. Seidlin wrote, “Should the injunction entered today ultimately be dissolved, it would only benefit all involved, patients and providers alike, to have rules in place to administer the law.”
There is 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion “meaning Wednesday is the earliest that a patient could receive an abortion.”
Reynolds signed a nearly identical law in 2018, and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the ACLU of Iowa challenged it in court.
Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert ruled in 2019 that the law violated the Iowa Constitution, striking it down permanently. He cited a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision that declared women had a “fundamental right” to abortion under the state constitution.
However, the legal landscape shifted last year: The Iowa Supreme Court in 2022 overturned its 2018 decision, finding instead that Iowa women do not have a fundamental right to abortion, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs case removed a federal “undue burden” standard.
Reynolds asked Iowa courts to reconsider the 2018 law.