Iowa Supreme Court Overturns Pro-Life Law Requiring 72-Hour Waiting Period Before Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 29, 2018   |   2:44PM   |   Des Moines,IA

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against a pro-life law Friday that requires women to wait 72 hours before aborting their unborn babies.

WHO News 13 reports five of the seven justices decided the law is unconstitutional, claiming it violates due process and equal protection clauses in the Iowa Constitution.

The intent of the 2017 informed consent law was to help ensure women are fully informed before going through with an abortion. It requires abortion facilities to offer women the chance to see an ultrasound of her unborn baby and receive information about her baby’s development, abortion risks and alternatives before having an abortion. It also requires that women wait 72 hours after receiving that information to have an abortion.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law last year before it could go into effect.

Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady, writing for the majority, argued that the waiting period creates an undue burden on women seeking abortions, according to the Des Moines Register.

“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,” Cady wrote. “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.”

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Justices Edward Mansfield, one of the two justices who argued in favor of the law, is on President Donald Trump’s short list of possible nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court, the local news reported.

In his dissent, Mansfield pointed to other Iowa laws that require waiting periods for important decisions such as marriage and adoption.

“We have a three day waiting period for marriage. There is a 72-hour waiting period after birth for adoption. There is a 90-day waiting period for divorce,” he wrote. “No one can reasonably question the legislature’s power to impose these waiting periods before Iowans begin or end a marriage or give up a newborn baby for adoption. So why can’t the legislature impose a waiting period before an abortion?”

Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah also have laws requiring a three-day waiting period prior to an abortion.

Informed consent laws help protect unborn babies from abortion, and the abortion industry knows it. Studies have found that when women see ultrasound images of their unborn babies, they are more likely to choose life. A 2017 study out of the University of California San Francisco also suggests that some women do change their minds about abortion as a result of informed consent laws.

A majority of states (26) require a waiting period prior to an abortion and 35 require informed consent counseling, which often includes facts about an unborn baby’s development, the risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.