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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa Supreme Court rules 3-day wait period for abortions unconstitutional

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s 72-hour waiting period for women to get an abortion goes against the Constitution.
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DES MOINES – The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s 72-hour waiting period for women to get an abortion goes against the Constitution.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the ACLU of Iowa sued the state last year over the new waiting requirement. It was signed into law by then-Gov. Terry Branstad. Immediately after, the law was placed on hold.

“In making this decision, we recognize the continuing debate in society over abortion and acknowledge the right of government to reasonably regulate the constitutional right of women to terminate a pregnancy,” wrote Chief Justice Mark Cady. “…We conclude the statute enacted by our legislature, while intended as a reasonable regulation, violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa Constitution because its restrictions on women are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest of the state. The state has a legitimate interest in informing women about abortion, but the means used under the statute enacted does not meaningfully serve that objective. Because our constitution requires more, we reverse the decision of the district court.”

Opponents of the law say the ruling sends a clear message. 

“We want Gov. Reynolds and her allies in the legislature to know we will never stop fighting for our fundamental right to abortion, and the Iowa Constitution protects that right,” said Suzanna de Baca with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Those who advocated on behalf of the waiting period, on the other hand, are rather surprised at the outcome. 

“I am shocked, shocked,” said Chuck Hurley with The Family Leader. “This makes the heartbeat case that’s in court right now all that more important. Because Americans know that when a baby has a beating heart, she’s alive. She’s a person.”

There is another abortion case that’s still tangled up in the courts, and currently on the Supreme Court’s desk to make a ruling. That deals with the “fetal heartbeat” law that the state legislature passed in 2018. It restricts a woman from obtaining an abortion as soon as a baby’s heartbeat is detected, which typically happens around six weeks.