The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state’s constitution provides for no guaranteed right to an abortion, a decision that comes ahead of an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide.
The SCOTUS decision pertains to a case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which addressed the constitutionality of a Mississippi law banning all abortions after 15 weeks. In a draft ruling that was leaked in an unprecedented manner to POLITICO in early May, a majority of high court justices signed on to the draft written by Justice Samuel Alito overturning Roe and moving the issue back to the states for them to decide individually.
“In a fractured decision that reverses a lower court’s decision to block a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, the court said the previous ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake,” USA Today reported.
“The ruling sends a case challenging a 2020 law that put in place a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion back to a lower court to reevaluate. It also suggested that a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected soon, would further decide the landscape of abortion in Iowa and across the U.S.,” the outlet continued.
The Daily Wire added:
The Iowa court, which has shifted to the Right in recent years, overturned a 2018 decision stating that abortion was a protected fundamental right under the state constitution’s due process clause. The ruling also struck down a law that would have imposed a 72-hour waiting period for all abortions.
Friday’s ruling came pursuant to a 2020 law that would enact a 24-hour waiting period — a statute that was blocked by a lower court until Friday.
“Although we overrule (the 2018 decision), and thus reject the proposition that there is a fundamental right to an abortion in Iowa’s Constitution subjecting abortion regulation to strict scrutiny, we do not at this time decide what constitutional standard should replace it,” Justice Edward Mansfield wrote in the majority opinion, adding that the 2018 ruling “insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds (pictured), a Republican, issued a statement on the ruling on Friday: “Today’s ruling is a significant victory in our fight to protect the unborn. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed its earlier 2018 decision, which made Iowa the most abortion-friendly state in the country. Every life is sacred and should be protected, and as long as I’m governor that is exactly what I will do.”
Every life is sacred and should be protected, and as long as I’m governor that is exactly what I will do.
— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) June 17, 2022
Chief Justice Susan Christensen disagreed with overturning the 2018 decision. She argued that the state legislature is already engaged in amending the state constitution in order to state clearly that abortion is not a fundamental right, and as such, the state’s highest court ought to allow the legislative process to work.
“If the majority truly wants to leave this issue to the will of the people, it should let the people have their say through the ongoing constitutional amendment process,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, states led by Democrats are moving in the opposite direction ahead of the expected SCOTUS ruling.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul this week signed a series of bills sent to her by the state assembly’s Democratic majority protecting and even expanding the procedure, in anticipation of SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade.
A press release from her office states:
Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a nation-leading legislative package to immediately protect the rights of patients and empower reproductive healthcare providers in anticipation of a final decision by the Supreme Court on abortion access. The legislation takes specific actions to address a variety of legal concerns unleashed by the Supreme Court’s leaked opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson, which would overturn the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade on the eve of its 50th anniversary.