NRL News

Iowa Judge hears request by Gov. Reynolds to dissolve fetal heartbeat bill injunction 

by | Oct 28, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

Iowa’s heartbeat law, passed but put on hold in 2018, returned to Polk County District today as pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds explained why the temporary injunction should be lifted.

“A temporary injunction was granted in June of 2018 blocking the law after Planned Parenthood, Emma Goldman Clinic, and Jill Meadows M.D. sued the state, Gov. Reynolds, and the Iowa Board of Medicine,” Bloomberg News’ Mary Anne Pazanowski reported. “The lawsuit claimed the law that bans most abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks, was unconstitutional. Currently, Iowa law bans abortions after 20 weeks.”

Katie Akin  of the rabidly pro-abortion Des Moines Register explained that in court filings attorneys for Gov. Reynolds argueda blocked six-week abortion ban should be allowed to go into effect, as recent court decisions have drastically changed the bedrock of Iowa law.”

Tony Leys, also of The Des Moines Register, wrote 

In his decision striking down the abortion law, Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert cited the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling last year in a challenge to a different abortion-restriction law. The high court held that “a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution” in that ruling.

Of course that was before the ground dramatically shifted. 

First, on June 17, 2022,  the Iowa Supreme Court overturned its 2018 decision that held that Iowans had a fundamental right to abortion under the state constitution. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Edward M. Mansfield said the previous ruling “insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake and we must disagree with the views of today’s dissent that ‘[t]he state does not have a legitimate interest in protecting potential life before viability’.

The second fundamental change came a week later with the Supreme Court’s June 24th ruling striking down Roe v. Wade. 

In a court filing 

Reynolds’ attorney Alan Ostergren wrote that the reversal of those landmark decisions proves neither the Iowa nor U.S. Constitution “has ever protected a fundamental right to abortion.”

Therefore, Ostergren argues, “Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law was not unconstitutional when it was enacted in 2018. …

Attorneys for Gov. Reynolds also argued “that the trial court must, at least, take a new look at the six-week ban, given the Iowa Supreme Court’s June decision in Planned Parenthood of Heartland Inc. v. Reynolds ex rel. Iowa,” according to Pazanowski.

The state’s top court vacated an injunction that had blocked a 24-hour abortion delay law and, in doing so, overruled a 2018 decision that held that the Iowa Constitution protects a fundamental right to abortion.

The 2018 decision meant that state courts had to apply strict scrutiny when considering abortion restrictions. Under that standard, the state had to prove that the restriction served a compelling government interest in the narrowest way possible. But after the June decision, an abortion restriction can be upheld if it passes a laxer level of analysis. PPH and Reynolds disagree about what level now applies.