Court Battles

Iowa six-week abortion ban remains permanently blocked

Kim Reynolds
FILE – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds takes part in a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. A state judge on Monday, Dec. 12, blocked an effort to ban most abortions in Iowa by upholding a court decision made three years ago. Reynolds said in a statement that she would appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

A six-week abortion ban in Iowa remains blocked after a state judge on Monday ruled that the court does not have the authority to dissolve a permanent injunction on the ban. 

The law being debated was passed and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in 2018, prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected roughly six weeks into a pregnancy, which is often before many women know they are pregnant. The law included exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormality, medical emergencies and when an abortion is deemed medically necessary. 

But the Iowa Supreme Court issued a permanent injunction on the law in 2019 after finding that it violated the Iowa Constitution and federal precedent on abortion law. 

But the Iowa government attempted to dissolve the injunction in August, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and the Iowa Supreme Court overturning its own ruling in finding that abortion was not protected by the state constitution. 

Judge Celene Gogerty ruled that state law did not allow her to dissolve the injunction, but even if it did, she wrote that the state did not successfully argue how the Iowa Supreme Court ruling substantially changed abortion law in the state. 

The state Supreme Court found a fundamental right to abortion does not exist in the state constitution, but it did not make clear what standard should replace it and said that the standard established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey should be the governing standard for now, Gogerty wrote. 

The U.S. Supreme Court modified its ruling in Roe in the Casey ruling, finding that the U.S. Constitution protects against having an “undue burden” to receive an abortion. 

Gogerty found that the six-week ban would still constitute an undue burden and is therefore unconstitutional. 

With the law still blocked, abortion remains legal in Iowa through 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

Reynolds has been trying to have the courts enforce the previously approved abortion ban instead of calling a special session of the state legislature to pass a new law and vowed to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. 

The Iowa Supreme Court has become more conservative in its makeup since its ruling that abortion was protected in the state four years ago.

Tags abortion ban Iowa Kim Reynolds permanent injunction six week ban

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