In 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld strong legal protections for abortion in the state constitution. In 2019, the Republican-led Iowa legislature passed a new law giving the state’s governor the power to steer the state Supreme Court to the right by giving her the power to appoint a majority of the judicial nomination commission.
That’s exactly what happened to the court, the result of which basically spells the end of abortion protections in the state of Iowa. The reconstituted Republican state Supreme Court overturned itself, leaving the legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds the ability to ban abortion. That’s exactly what the legislature intended when it set this ruling up in 2020 by passing a new law imposing a 24-hour waiting period for people seeking an abortion. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sued, and a lower court judge blocked the law on two grounds: It violated both the 2018 ruling from the state’s highest court and the state constitution’s single-subject rule, since it passed as an amendment to an unrelated bill.
On Friday, the court reversed district Judge Mitchell Turner, ruling that there is no constitutional right to an abortion in the state, overturning the 2018 decision. It did not put the waiting period into effect as of now, instead sending it back to the lower court to review based on their decision. The court relied on the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t yet overturned abortion rights at the federal level, so the “undue burden” standard is still in effect, so the lower court would have to decide if the waiting period is a “substantial obstacle” to obtaining an abortion.
“Although we overrule (the 2018 precedent), 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,” the Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield wrote in the decision.
That’s just semantics from the justice, who expects—along with the rest of the legal community—that the U.S. Supreme will make it entirely moot in a number of days when it tosses federal abortion protections.
What this all means is that as soon as that ruling comes down, Iowa’s Republican-led legislature and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will end abortion protections in the state. That’s part of the larger plan by Republicans nationally.