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Another brief filed asking the Iowa Supreme Court to uphold the state’s Heartbeat law

by | Nov 16, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

A week after Iowa’s Attorney General Brenna Bird asked the state Supreme Court to uphold Iowa’s Heartbeat law, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a supportive brief built around the premise that “States have the strongest possible interest in protecting the most fundamental of our human rights—the right to life.”

The Heartbeat law prevents abortions after the fetal heartbeat can be detected, approximately after six weeks of gestation.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel said

Iowans are eager to affirm that life is a human right, which is why the legislature has passed the fetal heartbeat law multiple times, trying its best to enshrine into law further protections for unborn children. Iowa women deserve the dignity and respect that comes from receiving life-affirming health care—not the abortion industry’s false choice between doing what’s best for women and protecting the lives of their unborn children. We are urging the court to allow the state’s fetal heartbeat law to finally take effect.

“We know that every moment counts when it comes to protecting the unborn and are working diligently to ensure the Heartbeat Law is upheld,” Attorney General Bird said in a statement. “I’m confident that the law is on our side, and we will continue fighting to defend the right to life in court.”

Iowa’s pro-life Gov. Kim Reynold said “The people of Iowa and their elected representatives have spoken clearly and by a wider margin than before: it’s time for the Fetal Heartbeat Law to be upheld once and for all.” She added, “The injunction placed on Iowa’s Fetal Heartbeat Law has already led to the innocent deaths of children. It needs to end. Every life is valuable and worth our state’s protection – no matter what stage of life they are in.” 

In her 64-page brief Attorney General Bird wrote

That ruling was [in]error. The State of Iowa has a vital interest in protecting unborn human life at all stages of development. The injunction precluding enforcement of Iowa’s Fetal Heartbeat Statute undermines that interest, ignores recent developments in State and federal law, and misapplies this Court’s recent abortion precedent”.

Robin Opshal of the Iowa Capital Dispatch wrote “The Republican attorney general argues in the brief that the challenge by Planned Parenthood North Central States, the Emma Goldman Clinic and the ACLU of Iowa should be rejected, as it relies on the legal test rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. Bird also argues ‘abortion providers cannot sue at all, given that there is no constitutional right to provide abortions,’ according to a news release.”

Opshal explained that in a June decision, the state Supreme Court

let an injunction stand for a nearly identical law approved in 2018. Reynolds had asked the court to lift the injunction.  Justice Thomas D. Waterman wrote for the majority that the 2018 abortion law was passed by lawmakers during a time when its restrictions were unconstitutional under state and federal precedents. However, he wrote, the law could be upheld if passed again now that the U.S. and state supreme courts have found there was no constitutional right to an abortion.

Within weeks of the decision, Reynolds convened the Iowa Legislature for a one-day special session to pass the six-week abortion ban legislation again. She signed the law July 14.

The new law was immediately challenged, and a Polk County district judge issued an injunction on the law three days after Reynolds’ signing.

Categories: State Legislation