Capital Clicks

Iowa Supreme Court rejects Reynolds’ request on abortion case

By: - July 5, 2022 6:41 pm

The Iowa Judicial Building. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Judicial Branch)

The Iowa Supreme Court has rejected Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request that it reconsider its recent decision on a law that seeks to impose a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion.

Reynolds, who supports the waiting period, was hoping to have the court reconsider its June 17 decision in light of the more recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and gave the states far greater latitude in restricting or outlawing abortion.

The governor’s hope was that the Iowa justices would revisit the issue and rule on what legal standard should be applied when deciding the legality of any future restrictions on abortion in Iowa.

In arguing for the Iowa justices to revisit the case, Reynolds had noted that their June 17 decision – written after news had leaked that the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade – states that the high court’s written decision, once it was issued and made public, might “provide insights that we are currently lacking.”

With the Iowa Supreme Court’s refusal to rehear the matter, the justices’ June 17 ruling remains in effect, which means the case is headed back to district court in Johnson County where, in light of the recent higher-court decisions, a ruling is expected that will clear the way for the 24-hour waiting period to take effect.

Planned Parenthood North Central States and the  ACLU of Iowa issued a statement praising the court’s decision to refuse reconsideration:

“We are pleased that the court has declined the governor’s radical proposal to immediately revisit its 24-hour decision and eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Iowa. Nearly one in four American women have an abortion at some point in their lives, for a variety of deeply personal reasons. The majority of Iowans support their right to do so, and we will continue to fight to preserve it going forward.”

The waiting period was approved by the Iowa Legislature and the governor in 2020, but never took effect due to legal challenges. Tuesday’s decision, which was made without comment by the court, leaves Reynolds with one other legal avenue to pursue in quickly limiting access to abortion.

Last week, she announced her plans to ask a Polk County judge to lift the injunction that has prevented the state’s “fetal heartbeat law” from taking effect. That law is intended to prohibit abortions within six weeks or when a fetal heartbeat can be detected and was blocked by the courts when Roe v. Wade was still the law of the land.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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