Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have announced that they are dropping a lawsuit challenging Iowa’s 24-hour waiting period required for women who want an abortion; instead, they plan to dedicate their resources towards fighting a law that would potentially protect preborn children after six weeks.
The waiting period law was signed by Governor Kim Reynolds in June 2020, and was immediately challenged by the abortion industry. Judge Mitchell E. Turner issued a temporary injunction following that lawsuit, and subsequently put a permanent block on the law in June 2021.
The law was unenforceable until June 2022, when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not a fundamental right under the state’s constitution. That ruling sent the waiting period law back to a lower court for reconsideration. Now, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have decided to stop fighting the law altogether.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to dismiss this case, knowing the harms that a mandatory delay law imposes on Iowans who need abortion care,” said ACLU Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen. “Iowa politicians should never have passed this law, which has no medical basis and only makes accessing abortion more difficult.”
Mazie Stilwell, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood in Iowa, explained the reasoning behind dropping the suit.
“The motion filed today does not mean we are giving up in our fight to keep abortion safe and legal in Iowa — quite the opposite,” she said in a statement. “We are instead intentionally shifting our time and resources away from this case to other looming battles, including the constitutional amendment stripping Iowans of their right to abortion and the Governor’s announced attempt to revive a six-week ban.”
According to the Des Moines Register, the constitutional amendment Stilwell is referring to would oppose abortion, and is currently being drafted by lawmakers. Gov. Reynolds has also indicated that she is hoping to revive a “heartbeat bill” that prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks. That bill was passed in 2019 but overturned by a judge who claimed that “the due process and equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution” do not “serve the compelling state interest of promoting potential life.” With the June ruling declaring that abortion is not a fundamental right under the state constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade, Reynolds has said she will ask the courts to revive the heartbeat law.
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