Iowa Supreme Court Says Abortion Protections Not Guaranteed Under State Constitution

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The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday overruled a 2018 decision that protected abortion under the state constitution.

In a fractured decision that reverses a lower court’s decision to block a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, the court said the previous ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion “insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake.”

The ruling sends a case challenging a 2020 law that put in place a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion back to a lower court to reevaluate.

It also suggested that a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected soon, would further decide the landscape of abortion in Iowa and across the U.S.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland challenged the 2020 law, arguing that its passage had violated procedural rules and that the waiting period was unconstitutional.

The composition of the court has shifted since then. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, has appointed four of the seven justices.

While rejecting a constitutional guarantee of the right to abortion, Friday’s decision did not say what the new standard should be.

“Although we overrule (the 2018 decision), and thus reject the proposition that there is a fundamental right to an abortion in Iowa’s Constitution subjecting abortion regulation to strict scrutiny, we do not at this time decide what constitutional standard should replace it,” wrote Justice Edward Mansfield, who penned the majority opinion.