An Iowa judge swiftly blocked a new pro-life law Tuesday that requires abortion facilities to give women time to reflect and consider information about their unborn babies before going through with an abortion.
Johnson County District Court Judge Mitchell Turner issued a temporary injunction against the law, citing Iowa Supreme Court precedent, Courthouse News reports.
The law, challenged by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, ensures abortion facilities give women the opportunity to see their unborn babies on an ultrasound and hear their baby’s heartbeat at least 24 hours prior to the abortion. In addition, Iowa requires abortion facilities to provide women with information about abortion risks and resources available for parenting and adoption, and to confirm in writing that the women received it.
It passed the state legislature earlier this month, and Gov. Kim Reynolds, a pro-life Republican, signed it Monday. It was scheduled to go into effect Wednesday, but Turner’s order blocks it while the lawsuit continues.
During a press conference Tuesday, Reynolds promised to do everything she can to protect unborn babies and mothers, SW Iowa News reports.
“We’re going to work vigorously to defend it with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office,” she said. “I’m proud to be pro-life. I believe in this piece of legislation. I want to thank the legislature for passing it and sending it to my desk.”
In his ruling Tuesday, the judge pointed to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision striking down a similar 72-hour waiting period law, according to the report.
“This court is bound by Iowa precedent, including the standards clearly set forth” by the Iowa Supreme Court, Turner wrote.
The judge also rejected an argument by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that Planned Parenthood does not have standing to sue in the matter. Thomas Ogden, the Assistant Iowa Attorney General, told the judge that the abortion chain brought the lawsuit, not Iowa women, and Planned Parenthood did not prove that it would be “irreparably harmed” by the law.
Des Moines Register reports Planned Parenthood’s lawyer argued that the 24-hour waiting period imposes the same undue burden as the law that was struck down in 2018. The abortion chain said it has more than 100 abortions scheduled for Wednesday or later that would have to be rescheduled if the law goes into effect.
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“We’re glad that patients can seek abortion care without the burden of state-mandated delay and extra appointment. I want to be sure all Iowans know their access to safe, legal abortion remains the same,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, executive director for Iowa of Planned Parenthood North Central States, after the ruling.
There is more hope that the pro-life law will withstand a legal challenge. According to the Register, Reynolds appointed four new justices to the seven-member court, and only one current justice was appointed by a Democrat. The U.S. Supreme Court also has upheld informed consent requirements for abortion.
However, in the 2018 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court also “found” a so-called right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution – which makes it more difficult for pro-life laws to withstand legal challenges. Similar rulings in other states have been used to force taxpayers to fund abortions and restrict state legislatures from passing even minor, common sense abortion restrictions.
In February, the state Senate took steps to reverse the disastrous decision by passing a constitutional amendment to make it clear there is no right to abortion or to force taxpayers to fund abortions in Iowa. However, it takes multiple steps to pass a constitutional amendment, including voters’ approval.
Informed consent laws protect unborn babies from abortion, and the abortion industry knows it. Research indicates 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 require a waiting period prior to an abortion and 35 require informed consent counseling, which typically includes facts about an unborn baby’s development, the risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.