An Iowa judge permanently blocked a state pro-life law Monday that requires abortion facilities to give women time to reflect and consider information about their unborn babies before going through with an abortion.
The Des Moines Register reports District Court Judge Mitchell Turner ruled that the 24-hour waiting period law violates two parts of the Iowa Constitution and cannot be enforced. Turner previously issued a temporary block on the law in 2020.
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.
However, Turner said state lawmakers violated the “single-subject rule” in the state constitution when they passed the law as an amendment to a bill about providing life-sustaining medical care to minors, according to the report.
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Here’s more from the report:
The last-minute legislative maneuvers denied both legislators and the public time to comment and deliberate on the proposal, he wrote. …
Turner also found the law was barred by a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that found women have a fundamental right to receive an abortion under the Iowa Constitution.
“Given this clear precedent, this Court finds that Petitioners have established that a twenty-four hour waiting requirement is an invasion or threatened invasion ‘upon the fundamental rights of the people,'” he wrote.
Pro-lifers are working to pass a state constitutional amendment to reverse the pro-abortion ruling and declare that there is no right to abortion or a taxpayer-funded abortion in the state. The amendment potentially could be on the ballot for voters’ approval in 2024, but it needs a second round of approval from the state legislature first.
After Turner’s ruling, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa held a press conference to celebrate their win. They slammed the law as “medically unnecessary and harmful,” claiming the informed consent requirements make it more difficult for women to access abortions in Iowa.
Meanwhile, Gov. Kim Reynolds, a pro-life Republican who signed the law, promised to continue fighting to protect “innocent human life.”
“In a court ruling issued yesterday, an Iowa District Court wrongly struck down our efforts to protect all innocent human life,” she said in a statement. “I will be working with our legal counsel to appeal this recent decision, and I believe we can win.”
There is hope that the pro-life law may be upheld on appeal. According to the Register, Reynolds appointed four new justices to the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court, and only one current justice was appointed by a Democrat. The U.S. Supreme Court also has upheld informed consent requirements for abortion.
Informed consent laws protect unborn babies from abortion and hurt the abortion industry’s profits. 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.