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Judge issues temporary injunction against Iowa’s 24-hour waiting period

by | Jul 1, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds

To the surprise of absolutely no one, District Court Judge Mitchell Turner granted Planned Parenthood of the Heartland a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of Iowa’s new law requiring a 24-respite before having an abortion. The informed consent law, signed by pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds Monday afternoon, was put on hold Tuesday until the lawsuit is settled. It was set to go into effect today.

Judge Turner concluded that Planned Parenthood has “established a likelihood of success,” according to Stephen Gruber-Miller of the Des Moines Register, “on its claim that the law was passed unconstitutionally by being added to an unrelated piece of legislation at the last minute.”

The state put up a vigorous defense at the Monday afternoon hearing in front of Judge Turner. “Assistant Iowa Attorney General Thomas Ogden, who represented Reynolds, the Iowa Board of Medicine and the state of Iowa, argued that Planned Parenthood has not met the legal threshold to block the law from taking effect while the challenge continues to be argued,” Gruber-Miller reported.

“When somebody comes in and asks to block what the Legislature, the elected representatives of the people, have done, they have a high burden that they have to meet in order to convince the court do that,” he said. “And we don’t think that they’ve done that here.”

Ogden also argued Planned Parenthood hadn’t made a strong enough case for why it should be allowed to bring the lawsuit, rather than allowing a woman seeking an abortion to sue directly.

But Judge Turner was unpersuaded, which brought cheers from the Abortion Industry.

“We’re glad that patients can seek abortion care without the burden of a state-mandated delay and extra appointment,” Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa executive director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said.

However Gov. Reynolds hailed the legislature’s commitment to protecting the unborn. “I am proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life,” she said. “Life is precious, life is sacred, and we can never stop fighting for it. I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child.”

The bill “says a woman could not have an abortion for at least 24 hours after an initial appointment,” The Des Moines Register’s  Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson reported. “At that appointment, the woman would have to be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound scan of the fetus and information about abortion and other options, including adoption.”

There are 29 states which have passed waiting period legislation. They range from 18 hours (Indiana) to 24 hours [18 states)to 48 hours (three states), to 72 hours (seven states).

“These laws ensure that mothers are given a period of time to reflect before making a life-and-death decision,” said Ingrid Duran, Director of State Legislation for NRLC. “This time gives the mother a chance to consider all of her options and receive counseling to ensure she has made an informed decision.”

The bill passed as the legislative session came to an end in mid-June. The state House vote in favor was 53-42  while the margin in the state Senate was almost exactly two-to-one: 31-16.

As NRL News Today reported Tuesday, this is not the first time Iowa has had a law requiring a waiting period on the books. In 2017, Iowa passed a law requiring that women wait 72 hours before having an abortion, be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound scan, and be provided with information about alternatives. 

The following year, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the law in a decision written by Chief Justice Mark Cady.

However there has been considerable turnover in the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court since 2018. “Reynolds, a Republican, has appointed four new justices to the court, replacing two Democrat-appointed justices and two Republican-appointed justices,” according to Sam SidesRepublican governors have now appointed six of the court’s members.”

In explaining the reasoning behind the 24-hour waiting period, Rep. Shannon Lundgren, the bill’s floor manager, said, “24 hours is not an unreasonable amount of time to think about a decision that impacts more than just one life.”

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