Sunday 30 June 2024

Top Iowa Court Allows State’s Heartbeat Law To Take Effect After Planned Parenthood Lawsuit

 The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a law banning abortion when an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected can take effect in a victory for pro-life advocates.

In a 4-3 decision, the court said that protecting unborn babies when their heartbeats can be detected is a legitimate state interest. The decision means that Iowa’s previous 20-week limit on abortion will soon be around six weeks once the court’s ruling officially takes effect.

“We have previously held that abortion is not a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution,” Justice Matthew McDermott wrote for the majority. “Applying our established tiers of scrutiny, we hold that abortion restrictions alleged to violate the due process clause are subject to the rational basis test. Employing that test here, we conclude that the fetal heartbeat statute is rationally related to the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn life.”

“We thus reverse the district court order entering the temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the fetal heartbeat statute and remand for further proceedings,” McDermott wrote.

The state was sued by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union after Governor Kim Reynolds signed the heartbeat bill into law after Republican lawmakers passed it during a special session last year. The law includes exceptions for rape and incest.

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Susan Christensen claimed the law was a setback for women.

“Today, our court’s majority strips Iowa women of their bodily autonomy by holding that there is no fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy under our state constitution,” she wrote. “The majority’s rigid approach relies heavily on the male-dominated history and traditions of the 1800s, all the while ignoring how far women’s rights have come since the Civil War era.”


Iowa Republicans celebrated the ruling from the court.

“There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn,” Reynolds said in a statement. “As the heartbeat bill finally becomes law, we are deeply committed to supporting women in planning for motherhood, and promoting fatherhood and its importance in parenting.”

House Speaker Pat Grassley said that courts had stood in the way of pro-life protections for a long time.

“This ruling is a victory in the fight to protect unborn children in Iowa,” Grassley said. “The Legislature is elected by the people, and for too long, the courts have stood in the way of Iowans having their voices heard on this matter.”

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