Iowa’s New Abortion Law Latest Attempt by State to Restrict Women’s Rights
“Isn’t the hallmark of due process the notion that people require notice and that the citizenry has a right to know what their legislatures are voting on? How does this not fly in the face of due process?”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new abortion law after the state’s supreme court blocked a similar bill in 2018, The Associated Press reported. To pass Iowa’s new abortion law, Republican legislators tacked an abortion amendment to an unrelated bill, which was passed during an overnight session concluding June 14 at 5:30 a.m.
Passed in the Dead of Night
The surprise passage prompted outcries from reproductive rights advocates such as Planned Parenthood. Although Reynolds signed the bill into law, Sixth Judicial District Judge Mitchell Turner ordered it temporarily blocked on June 30 as a lawsuit proceeds against the state.
“I am proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life,” the Republican governor said after signing the new law. “I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child.”
The bill forces women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion, which is reminiscent of a 2018 law that mandated a 3-day waiting period. The new bill also stipulates that a doctor must also have proof that a woman received an ultrasound and provided the chance to view an image of the fetus within her and listen to the heartbeat, CBS 2 Iowa reported.
“Iowans want to see unborn lives protected and this bill is a big step in that direction,” said state Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville. “Waiting periods help ensure that decisions are made not under duress and not under undue influences. It’s the hope that after taking time to consider it, a woman would choose life over death.”
Although legislators determined the amendment was not relevant to the bill under consideration, GOP representatives successfully suspended House rules to consider it and ultimately passed it before sending it to the state senate. Democratic lawmakers protested the manner and timing in which the GOP forced the abortion provision through.
“Instead of addressing the serious problems, we are here debating at the very end of session —without the benefits of public input, in the midst amidst a pandemic, in the midst of civil unrest—another infringement on Iowa women’s rights,” said Rep. Karin Derry, D-Johnston.
The Iowa Supreme Court nullified the 2018 law after Planned Parenthood brought a lawsuit against the state. The group is now suing once again over essentially the same law with a minor alteration.
“The situation feels like Groundhog Day because we were here only three years ago seeking the same emergency relief and litigating a mandatory delay law that was indistinguishable from this one,” said Alice Clapman, lawyer for Planned Parenthood.
Clapman argued against Iowa’s new abortion law in court this week against Assistant Iowa Attorney General Thomas Ogden, SW Iowa News reported. He said the law violated a “single subject rule” that requires provisions to be relevant to legislation.
In the initial hearing, Turner appeared inclined to agree with Planned Parenthood. The judge was unable to determine if the word ‘abortion’ was included in the bill’s title before 10:18 p.m., suggesting the state legislature attempted to obscure the nature of the legislation. Furthermore, Turner questioned Ogden for the reasoning behind passing the bill at 4 a.m, a time that limited the ability for constituents to participate in debate over it.
“Isn’t the hallmark of due process the notion that people require notice and that the citizenry has a right to know what their legislatures are voting on? How does this not fly in the face of due process?” Turner asked during the hearing.
Ogden defended the state by arguing that Planned Parenthood does not have standing to sue.
The judge, however, countered that a US Supreme Court ruling on Monday upheld the right of medical providers to sue on behalf of their patients. Additionally, he cited precedent for upholding abortion rights.
“This court is bound by Iowa precedent, including the standards clearly set forth” in the 2018 ruling, Jurist reported. The right to an abortion is “undisputed” according to Turner.
Supreme Court Refrains from Ruling Definitively
Iowa has become a battleground state over abortion. The new abortion law is one of several recent attempts to restrict women’s access to the medical procedure. After the the 2018 court ruling struck down the previous law, the Iowa Senate began procedures to modify the state’s constitution to explicitly deny the right to an abortion. The amendment would need to be approved by the House, another vote in the legislature, and then be approved by voters before ratification. The House has refused to vote on the amendment, though.
This week was a banner week for abortion cases as the US Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana abortion law. POLITICO reported. In a 5-4 ruling with Chief Justice John Roberts breaking the tie, the Supreme Court found that Louisiana’s law was too restrictive and burdensome. IT was the first abortion case the court heard following President Donald Trump’s appointment of two justices.
The judges declined to rule on related cases in Indiana. Notably, a law enacted by then-Gov. Mike Pence requires an ultrasound and 18-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion, similar to Iowa’s new abortion law. The Supreme Court passed the case back to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously blocked the law from taking effect.
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