An Iowa judge has permanently blocked a state law that would require any woman seeking an abortion to first undergo a 24-hour waiting period. The law was also to require that a woman view an ultrasound of her child and receive certain state-mandated information about the procedure before aborting.
In his ruling, Judge Mitchell E. Turner declared that the law was unconstitutional because it was passed as an amendment to a separate, unrelated measure. Mitchell also determined that the law was similar to a 72-hour abortion waiting period law that the Iowa Supreme Court overturned in 2018. “Given this clear precedent, this Court finds that Petitioners have established that a twenty-four hour waiting requirement is an invasion or threatened invasion ‘upon the fundamental rights of the people,'” he wrote.
Governor Kim Reynolds signed the measure in June of 2020. It was almost immediately contested by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, and on June 30, 2020, Turner issued a temporary injunction. According to the Des Moines Register, this ruling makes that injunction permanent and nixes the need for a trial, which was on the docket for next January.
The Iowa Constitution has a rule that requires that each piece of legislation have a single subject. According to the Des Moines Register, members of the House voted to suspend that rule for this particular legislation, which was attached as an amendment to a bill related to providing life-saving medical care to minors. While it appears that legislators attempted to skirt the mandate, Turner referenced it heavily in his final ruling.
“Upon review of both the Iowa Senate and House videos, it is abundantly clear to this Court that what occurred in the Iowa Legislature on June 13th and 14th, 2020 was exactly such ‘tricks in legislation’ and ‘mischiefs’ that the single-subject rule exists to prevent,” Turner wrote.
Despite the claims of many critics, informed consent laws like waiting periods and mandatory ultrasound viewings do not limit access to abortion, but they do save lives. During the bill’s debate last year, Rep. Shannon Lundgren pointed out that Iowa already has waiting periods in place for other major life decisions, like marriage, divorce, and adoption. “Twenty-four hours is not an unreasonable amount of time to think about a decision that impacts more than just one life,” she said.
KCCI shared video of a press conference for an unrelated event in which Gov. Reynolds was asked about the court ruling. “We will be appealing that decision and we’re pretty confident that we can get the outcome that we’re looking for,” she responded. According to KCCI, the state has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision.
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