Judge temporarily blocks abortion ban in Iowa as abortion providers’ suit proceeds News
Janni Rye, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Judge temporarily blocks abortion ban in Iowa as abortion providers’ suit proceeds

A district judge in Iowa issued a temporary injunction on the state’s new “fetal heartbeat law” Monday following a suit by abortion providers to block the strict abortion ban, formally known as House File (H.F.) 732. As a result, the law is blocked from taking effect while the lawsuit continues and abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy is again legal in Iowa until the court issues its final judgment.

The judge applied the undue burden test, which determines whether a law imposes an “undue burden” on a person’s protected freedoms, and explained that the abortion providers are likely to succeed on their claim that the new ban violates the Due Process clause of the Iowa Constitution. However, the judge’s decision also instructs the Iowa Board of Medicine to write regulations to administer the law should Monday’s order be dissolved.

Judge Joseph Seidlin concluded his ruling by writing:

[The court] recognizes that there are good, honorable and intelligent people – morally, politically and legally – on both sides of this upsetting societal and constitutional dilemma. Patience and perseverance are also hallmark traits on both sides, traits that continue to deserve respect. The court believes it must follow current Iowa Supreme Court precedent and preserve the status quo ante while this litigation and adversarial presentation which our Supreme Court has invited moves forward.

The suit prompting the temporary injunction was brought by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc., Emma Goldman Clinic, and Dr. Sarah Traxler, a Minnesota-based obstetrician and gynecologist. As the complaint explains, the law:

“…bans abortions at a stage at which many people do not yet know they are pregnant, and even those who do know may not have had time to make a decision about whether to have an abortion, research their options, and schedule appointments at a health center, not to mention overcoming the logistical and financial obstacles required to travel to a health center for an abortion.”

Consequently, the petitioners contend that the law bans “the vast majority of abortions in Iowa,” in violation of the rights of Iowans under the state Constitution. Additionally, the complaint emphasizes that the ban was passed by the legislature in a single-day special session proclaimed by Governor Kim Reynolds less than three weeks after an evenly divided Iowa Supreme Court prevented the state from enforcing a previous but similar version of the ban.

Following the district judge’s order, Governor Reynolds issued a statement condemning the temporary injunction, saying:

The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today, but I will fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn.