Iowa Supreme Court Rules There’s No Right to Kill Babies in Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 17, 2022   |   10:34AM   |   Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court has issued a major ruling today indicating there is no right to abortion in the state constitution. This sets up the state to be able to pass an abortion ban in the legislature to protect babies from abortions as soon as the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

The decision reverses a ruling the state’s highest court issued just four years ago thanks to a change in the makeup of the court with more conservative justices added — just as is happening at the federal Supreme Court level.

The case involves a 2020 law that 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.

A state judge blocked the law, citing the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, but Gov. Kim Reynolds and 60 pro-life state lawmakers appealed.

Assistant Attorney General Sam Langholztold the Iowa Supreme Court that it should overturn its 2018 ruling declaring a right to abortion in the state constitution and today the court did just that. Justices determined that the state court wrongly decided that abortion is among the fundamental privacy rights guaranteed by the Iowa Constitution and federal law.

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In its 2018 ruling, decided by a 5-2 vote, the court said that “autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free.” The reversal comes thanks to pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has named four of the justices to the court since 2017.

Justice Edward Mansfield wrote the 182-page opinion, which says “the Iowa Constitution is not the source of a fundamental right to an abortion necessitating a strict scrutiny standard of review for regulations affecting that right.”

Regarding the expected Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe, the Iowa Supreme Court opinion said: “That case could decide whether the undue burden test continues to govern federal constitutional analysis of abortion rights. We expect the opinions in that case will impart a great deal of wisdom we do not have today. Although we take pride in our independent interpretation of the Iowa Constitution, often our independent interpretations draw on and contain exhaustive discussions of both majority and dissenting opinions of the United States Supreme Court.”

Lawyer Chris Schandovel, who represents the state lawmakers, said the Iowa Supreme Court was wrong in declaring abortion to be a right. He said fundamental rights are deeply rooted in the history and tradition of the state, and Iowa prohibited abortions starting in 1843.

Quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Schandovel told the court before its decision, “When the constitution is silent and therefore neutral on an issue like abortion, the courts have a responsibility to be scrupulously neutral on those subjects, leaving them to the people to regulate through their elected representatives.”

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.