The Iowa Supreme Court issued an important ruling stating that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution. This will allow the state to pass an abortion ban in the legislature to protect babies from abortions once the Supreme Court overthrows Roe.
The decision reverses a ruling made just four years ago by the state’s highest court thanks to a change in court composition that added more conservative judges — much like what happens at the federal Supreme Court level.
The case concerns a 2020 law that would ensure abortion facilities allow women to see their unborn babies on ultrasound and hear their baby’s heartbeat at least 24 hours before the abortion. In addition, Iowa requires abortion facilities to provide women with information about abortion risks and resources available for parenting and adoption and to certify in writing that the women have received them.
A state judge blocked the law, citing the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, but Governor Kim Reynolds and 60 pro-life state lawmakers appealed.
Assistant Attorney General Sam Langholz told the Iowa Supreme Court it must reverse its 2018 ruling declaring the right to abortion in the state constitution. Today, the court did just that. Judges ruled that the state court erroneously ruled that abortion is one of the fundamental privacy rights guaranteed by the Iowa Constitution and federal law.
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In its 2018 ruling, decided by 5-2 votes, the court said that “autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the heart of what it means to be free.” The turnaround comes thanks to pro-life governor Kim Reynolds, who has appointed four judges to the court since 2017.
Judge Edward Mansfield wrote the 182-page opinion, stating that “the Iowa Constitution does not source a fundamental right to abortion, requiring a strict standard of review for the assessment of regulations affecting that right.”
Regarding the expected Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe, the Iowa Supreme Court opinion said, “That case could decide whether the undue burden review continues to dominate the federal constitutional analysis of abortion rights. In that case, we expect that the opinions will bring a lot of wisdom that we do not have today. While we pride ourselves on our independent interpretation of the Iowa Constitution, our independent interpretations often rely on and include extensive discussions of both majority and dissenting opinions of the United States Supreme Court.””
Attorney Chris Schandovel, representing state lawmakers, said the Iowa Supreme Court was wrong in declaring abortion a right. He said fundamental rights are deeply rooted in the history and tradition of the state, and Iowa banned abortion in 1843.
Citing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Schandovel told the court before his decision, “If the Constitution is silent and therefore neutral on an issue like abortion, the courts have a responsibility to be scrupulously neutral on these issues, and leaving them to the people to settle through their elected representatives.”
Informed consent laws protect unborn babies from abortion and hurt the profits of the abortion industry. Research shows that when women see ultrasound images of their unborn babies, they are more likely to choose life. A 2017 study from the University of California at San Francisco also suggests that some women are changing their minds about abortion due to informed consent laws.
A majority of states require a waiting period before having an abortion, and 35 need informed consent counseling, which typically includes facts about an unborn baby’s development, the risks of abortion, and alternatives to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.