Judge Blocks Attempt To Ban Most Abortions In Iowa

An Iowa judge on Monday upheld a previous court decision and blocked an attempt to prohibit most abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

Judge Celene Gogerty left the permanent injunction from 2019 in place, saying state law did not give her the authority to dissolve it.

“The federal courts have long found a change in the law can allow a court to modify or vacate an injunction. However, the federal rule, upon which these holdings were made, is substantively different from Iowa rules and therefore, distinguishable,” the ruling read.

“There is not a specific federal rule on dissolving permanent injunctions,” she added.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who signed the state’s fetal heartbeat bill into law in 2018, said she would appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The bill banned abortion in the state after the detection of a fetal heartbeat (generally at about six weeks), with exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and medical emergencies.

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a permanent injunction in 2019 against the law, ruling that it violated the state’s Constitution and past precedent.

Iowa’s conservative lawmakers sought to end the injunction following the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade in June which returned abortion policies to states.

“Now is the time for us to stand up and continue the fight to protect the unborn,” Reynolds said in June. “The Supreme Court’s historic decision reaffirms that states have the right to protect the innocent and defenseless unborn—and now it’s time for our state to do just that.”

In June, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not protected in the Iowa Constitution, overturning its previous decision.

Judge Gogerty noted that it did not provide a clear standard for what should replace the previous ruling, claiming the six-week ban would be an “undue burden” and therefore was unconstitutional. Instead, the ruling leaves the state’s current law prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy intact.

A leader from Planned Parenthood celebrated the ruling.

“The district court’s decision is a huge win for abortion rights and bodily autonomy in Iowa. For now, abortion remains safe and legal in the state, and Iowans will continue to have control over their ability to determine their lives and futures,” said Planned Parenthood North Central States President and CEO Ruth Richardson in a Monday statement.

The governor also released a statement following the Monday ruling to address the importance of continuing the fight for the sanctity of life.

“As the Iowa and US Supreme Courts have made clear, there is no fundamental right to an abortion,” Reynolds wrote. “The decision of the people’s representatives to protect life should be honored, and I believe the court will ultimately do so. As long as I’m Governor, I will continue to fight for the sanctity of life and for the unborn.”

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