Iowa Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Waiting Period for Abortion

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The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a law that would require a three-day waiting period prior to obtaining an abortion in the state.

On Friday, the state Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court and ruled the waiting period restriction violated the Iowa Constitution and that “autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free.”

The court ruled, 5-2, in a challenge brought by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH), that the 72-hour waiting period could force women to incur increased costs for abortions or cause women to go beyond the legal limit for abortion.

“At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one’s own identity, destiny, and place in the world,” the majority wrote. “Nothing could be more fundamental to the notion of liberty.”

Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote the decision in which he said the state “may not trespass upon the fundamental rights of the people.”

Cady also wrote:

Abortion is a safe medical procedure comparable to other office gynecological procedures such as endometrial biopsies, intrauterine device insertions, and cervical cone biopsies. Abortion is a safer procedure than many office medical procedures, including colonoscopies. The risk of death from continuing a pregnancy to childbirth is fourteen times greater than that of an abortion procedure.

Cady referred to abortion as “abortion care” in the opinion and continued that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) patients “are fully informed of the alternatives to the procedure, including parenting and adoption.”

“If a patient expresses any interest in continuing the pregnancy, PPH provides a list of resources for prenatal care, encourages her to begin prenatal vitamins, and can refer patients to obstetricians,” he wrote.

Justices Edward Mansfield – who is on President Donald Trump’s list of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court – and  Thomas Waterman, however, disagreed with the majority.

According to WQAD, in a dissenting opinion, Mansfield wrote the majority abandons “acceptable methods of constitutional interpretation” and conveys “an undertone of moral criticism toward abortion opponents.”

The Des Moines Register reported:

Mansfield also noted that Iowa law imposes waiting periods for other important life decisions. “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?”

The waiting period requirement is part of a larger bill signed into law last year that bans most abortions past the 20th week of pregnancy. The 20-week restriction is already in effect and has not been challenged.

In May, Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds also signed into law a measure that bans all abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A district judge, however, temporarily placed a hold on the historic law as a result of a lawsuit filed by PPH and another abortion clinic.

Reynolds said the state Supreme Court’s decision regarding the waiting period was disappointing, reports the Register.

“Often, women are in crisis when facing this decision, and it’s a decision that can impact them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I don’t think it is unreasonable to require 72 hours for someone to weigh their options and the important decision they are about to make.”

“The Iowa Supreme Court used language often associated with judicial activism in pushing a left-wing agenda,” said Breitbart News Senior legal editor Ken Klukowski. “I would be surprised if this was truly the original meaning of what the people of Iowa embodied in the supreme law of that state.”

The case is Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Jill Meadows vs. Kimberly K. Reynolds ex rel. State of Iowa and Iowa Board of Medicine, No.17–1579 in the Iowa Supreme Court.


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