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State Government News

Court Temporarily Blocks 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period In Iowa

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Alan Light/Flickr
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the 24-hour waiting period into law Monday. It was to have gone into effect Wednesday. A district court judge blocked it Tuesday at the Johnson County Courthouse.

A Johnson County District Court judge blocked Iowa’s new mandatory 24-hour abortion waiting period from taking effect Wednesday.

“We’re glad that patients can seek abortion care without the burden of state-mandated delay and extra appointment,” Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a news release. “I want to be sure all Iowans know their access to safe, legal abortion remains the same.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the bill into law Monday. The law would require Iowans seeking an abortion to attend an additional appointment at least 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy.

“I am proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life,” Reynolds said in a news release Monday. “I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child.”

The law won’t be enforced while a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa continues.

The Iowa Legislature introduced and passed the policy in the final hours of the legislative session, overnight, in mid-June. Some Republican lawmakers said they hope this lawsuit leads to a new abortion-related court precedent in Iowa that would open the door to more abortion restrictions.

The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a 72-hour abortion waiting period in 2018, ruling it unconstitutional and saying abortion rights are fundamental rights, with any restrictions subject to the highest level of judicial review. Planned Parenthood argues that means the Court must also find the 24-hour waiting period unconstitutional.

Johnson County Judge Mitchell Turner noted at a court hearing Monday that the lower courts are bound by the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling.

A lawyer for the state agreed, and argued that Planned Parenthood does not have legal standing to challenge the law. Judge Turner rejected that, citing the long history of abortion providers filing lawsuits on behalf of their patients.