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Judge told she should set aside a 2019 permanent injunction that prevented Iowa from enforcing its Heartbeat Law

by | Oct 31, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

It seems obvious, so obvious I must be missing something. Iowa’s Heartbeat Law was passed in 2018 and permanently enjoined in 2019. Last Friday, according to David Pitt of the Associated Press,

Chris Schandevel, a lawyer for Governor Kim Reynolds, said Judge Celene Gogerty should set aside a 2019 permanent injunction that prevented Iowa from enforcing a law that would block abortions once cardiac activity can be detected. That is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

Schandevel said the injunction rests entirely on an Iowa Supreme Court 2018 decision that guaranteed the right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution and cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 and 1973 that established abortion rights nationally.

All three cases were overruled this year by more conservative courts and given that, Reynolds’ lawyers argued the judge should reverse the injunction and let the 2018 law take effect.

“It would be inequitable to prevent the people of Iowa to have their voices heard through a validly enacted law, enacted as recently as 2018,” he said.

Both sides were asked by District Judge Celene Gogerty whether the district court has the jurisdiction to reverse a permanent injunction or to decide the new legal standard of protection for abortion, according to the Des Moines Register’s Katie Akin.

Schandevel argued courts have an “inherent authority” to alter and enforce permanent injunctions. He said that, because there has been a “substantial change” in the law since the 2019 decision, the court should remove the injunction. [The ACLU’s] Bettis Austen responded that this already-decided case was not the proper vehicle to decide a new legal standard for Iowa’s abortion laws.

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