Iowa Supreme Court Rejects Right to Abortion, Revives Reuters Waiting Period

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© Reuters. Abortion protesters pray to the Supreme Court in Washington, USA, June 6, 2022. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein / Files

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By Brendan Pearson

(Reuters) – The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the state constitution does not include the “fundamental right” to abortion, repealing its own finding four years ago and resuming a law requiring women to wait 24 hours after an initial meeting before get an abortion.

The Iowa Supreme Court’s 5-2 ruling overturned a lower court blocking the law, which was challenged by a branch of Planned Parenthood. This comes as the US Supreme Court is expected to issue an important ruling in the coming weeks that could drastically limit abortion rights nationally.

Sarah Stoes, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said the group was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.

The group also noted that the decision still leaves room for challenging the 24-hour waiting period in the lower court on the grounds that it imposes an “unnecessary burden” on women seeking abortion, and said it would pursue that challenge.

Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller’s office, which defended the law, declined to comment.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the 24-Hour Waiting Period Act in 2020. The State Supreme Court overturned an earlier law imposing a 72-hour waiting period in 2018, finding that the state constitution includes a fundamental right to abortion.

Judge Edward Mansfield, who wrote for the majority on Friday, said the 2018 decision was “wrong” and “unilateral”.

Chief Justice Susan Christensen disagreed, saying the court was too quick to overturn its previous decision. She noted that four of the seven current judges – including her – have been appointed by Reynolds since 2018.

If the US Supreme Court overturns abortion rights, state-level litigation is likely to become more frequent as Republican-led states quickly adopt new abortion restrictions.

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