Judge Temporarily Blocks Iowa’s 6-Week Abortion Ban

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
July 18, 2023Politicsshare
Judge Temporarily Blocks Iowa’s 6-Week Abortion Ban
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a campaign event for Senate candidate Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) at Dahl Auto Museum as part of Ernst's RV tour of Iowa in Davenport, Iowa on Oct. 31, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

An Iowa judge issued a temporary injunction on Monday, blocking the state’s new ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at six weeks of pregnancy.

This decision came shortly after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the measure into law, following approval by the Republican-led Legislature during an all-day special session last week.

In response to the court’s decision, Ms. Reynolds expressed her determination to fight it.

“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today, but I will fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court, where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn,” she said in a statement.

The legal challenges against the ban were launched by the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the Emma Goldman Clinic after the measure was approved.

One of the lawsuits argues that many women don’t realize they are pregnant until after the six-week mark. They state that if the law is not halted, it will severely limit access to abortions in Iowa.

As a result of the temporary injunction, the state’s 20-week abortion ban is back in place while the courts assess the constitutionality of the new law.

Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin, who presided over a hearing on the matter last Friday, issued the temporary injunction on Monday. In his conclusion, he acknowledged the complexity of the issue and emphasized the importance of preserving the status quo while the litigation proceeds.

“The court will grant the temporary injunction requested here. In doing so, it recognizes that there are good, honorable and intelligent people—morally, politically and legally—on both sides of this upsetting societal and constitutional dilemma,” Mr. Seidlin’s conclusion read.

“The court believes it must follow current Iowa Supreme Court precedent and preserve the status quo ante while this litigation and adversarial presentation which our Supreme Court has invited moves forward.”

Mr. Seidlin based his ruling on the “undue burden” test, which requires laws to not create significant obstacles to abortion. The state Supreme Court had previously maintained that undue burden remains in effect and invited further litigation on the issue.

“The current state of the law in Iowa remains, at least for the time being, that some level of constitutional protection applies to women seeking abortion in Iowa, requiring an undue burden standard for analysis,” Mr. Seidlin said in his ruling. “Therefore, there also remains an underlying justification for the Petitioners’ standing to assert the constitutional rights of women seeking abortions in Iowa.”

State lawyers argued, and are likely to continue arguing, that the law should be analyzed using rational basis review, which is the lowest level of scrutiny for legal challenges.

Ms. Reynolds called for a special legislative session last week to devise this measure after the Iowa Supreme Court was unable to reach a decision on a previous six-week ban she signed in 2018.

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate, where Republicans hold the majority. Democrats were all opposed, and some representatives and senators were absent or opposed. After seven hours of debate, the bill passed on July 11, amid rowdy protests.

Republican state Rep. Shannon Lundgren expressed her support for the bill.

“This bill protects unborn children in Iowa,” she said. “This bill sets a clear standard where the state has an interest in the life of the child: when the baby’s heart starts beating. Where there is a heartbeat, there is life.”

In 2018, there was a legal dispute over the law, and it was halted in the lower courts. The state aimed to reverse this decision following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

A judge declared that the six-week ban would effectively prohibit almost all abortions, leading to a violation of the Iowa Constitution. The state appealed this ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court, where it was determined that abortion was not safeguarded by the state constitution, but the case resulted in a deadlock with a 3–3 tie.

From The Epoch Times

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