Iowa S. Ct. Repeals a decision subjecting abortion restrictions to strict control under the Iowa Constitution

From today’s decision in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds (which it probably will be now PPH III):

IN Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds (PPH II) (Iowa 2018), we faced a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for abortion, which the legislature adopted in 2017. [W]e rejected the test for undue weight. Instead, we have found that the Iowa Constitution – in particular the due process clause – protects abortion as a fundamental right. We found that the waiting period could not withstand strict control in this test and we defined it as unconstitutional …

[We] cancels PPH IIand thus we reject the thesis that there is a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution, subjecting the regulation of abortion to strict control, we are not currently deciding what constitutional standard should replace it. As noted, c PPH I [in 2015], we applied the test of undue gravity under our constitution when the state recognized that it had applied. One amicus curiae argues that we must assume that the rational basis test applies to abortion regulations. But the state does not take such a position; just ask that PPH II be canceled and stop here …

Furthermore, we are not blind to the fact that an important abortion case is now pending in the United States Supreme Court. See Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org… Although we zealously maintain our ability to interpret the Iowa Constitution regardless of the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the Federal Constitution, the opinion (or opinions) in this case may provide insights that we currently lack. Therefore, all we believe today is that the Iowa Constitution is not a source of a fundamental right to abortion, which requires a strict standard for reviewing regulations affecting that right. For now, that means Casey unjustified load test in which we applied PPH I the management standard remains. In detention, the parties must provide evidence on this test, although the legal standard may also be further challenged.

This accurately summarizes the end result of the case, but keep in mind the division of opinions:

  1. The lead opinion written by Judge Edward Mansfield, joined by Judges Thomas Waterman and Dana Oxley, fully supports this result.
  2. Judges Matthew McDermott and Christopher MacDonald would reject any intensified checks (including the “unnecessary burden” test) on abortion restrictions.
  3. Chief Justice Susan Christensen and Judge Brent Appel would maintain strict scrutiny (Christensen as a matter of stared decisions, and Appel, the only judge in the court who was in 2018). PPH II majority, in essence).

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