Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City in February of 2013. Photo by Vkulikov via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Tuesday, a district court judge granted a temporary injunction blocking Iowa’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions from taking effect on July 1. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill passed during the last marathon weekend of the 2020 session of the Iowa Legislature. 

The law reads, “A physician performing an abortion shall obtain written certification from the pregnant woman of all of the following at least twenty-four hours prior to performing an abortion.”  

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed for a temporary injunction last week

In Iowa City, Judge Mitchell Turner, a district court judge in Iowa’s Sixth Judicial District, blocked the new law until the case is heard in court. 

Turner noted during arguments on Monday that a similar law was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court. He said that fact gave him “pause” because he would essentially tell the Iowa Supreme Court they got their ruling wrong.

In 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state’s 72-hour waiting period law ruling that it violated the Iowa Constitution’s due process clause and equal protection clause, thus finding a right to abortion in the state constitution. 

In 2019, a district court judge ruled against Iowa’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban based on that ruling. Reynolds opted not to appeal

Planned Parenthood and ACLU want the court to rule the same way and strike down the new 24-hour waiting period.

Should that lawsuit reach the Iowa Supreme Court, the challenge will go before a court that looks completely different than the one that ruled against a 72-hour waiting period in 2018. Reynolds appointed four of the court’s seven justices who were not on the court in 2018. The two dissenting justices, Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman are still on the court.

Reynolds and pro-life Republicans in the Iowa Senate and Iowa House attempted to pass a constitutional amendment called the Protect Life Amendment. If passed in two concurrent general assemblies and ratified by Iowa voters, it would add language to the Iowa Constitution stating there is no right to abortion or taxpayer funding of abortion in the Iowa Constitution. 

That effort fell short when three Republican legislators blocked its passage forcing the Iowa Legislature to have to start from scratch in the next General Assembly. 

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