(The Center Square) – Sixty Iowa legislators asked the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse its 2018 decision on its Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds in an amicus brief Alliance Defending Freedom and The FAMiLY Leader attorneys filed August 30.
“I honestly have no idea [whether the Iowa Supreme Court will reverse its ruling],” State Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, told The Center Square in a texted statement on September 7. “I believe that our arguments are legally sound so we shall see.”
In Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds, the court rejected a 2017 law, SF 471, that required a 72-hour waiting period after a woman was “given the opportunity to see the unborn child by viewing the ultrasound image of the unborn child,” hearing the heartbeat of “the unborn child,” was provided information including regarding alternatives to abortion and medical risks of abortion, before proceeding with an abortion – unless the abortion was “performed to save the life of a pregnant woman … or in a medical emergency.”
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sued. Iowa District Court for Polk County upheld the law. The late Chief Justice Mark Cady led the majority ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court. Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman dissented.
“We conclude the statute enacted by our legislature, while intended as a reasonable regulation, violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa Constitution because its restrictions on women are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest of the State,” Cady said in the majority’s ruling.
The legislators said in the brief that the Iowa Constitution and its history does not support the idea that “abortion is a fundamental right.” Arguments included that the decision “either ignored or misapplied” four fundamental legal standards they said “should have governed the entire analysis”: the plaintiff’s burden to proven unconstitutionality beyond a reasonable doubt, examining the Iowa Constitution’s framers’ intent, and deference to the district court’s fact-finding.
“As long as this unconstitutional, disastrous Planned Parenthood ruling stands, our courts will continue to strike down every reasonable effort to regulate abortion in our state,” The FAMiLY Leader Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel Chuck Hurley said in a The FAMiLY Leader news article that announced the legislators filed the amicus brief.
Since the 2018 decision, Gov. Kim Reynolds has appointed justices Dana Oxley, Matthew McDermott, Christopher McDonald, and Susan Christensen, who replaced the Cady as chief justice after he passed away.
In July of this year, Reynolds signed onto a legal brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade.
“For years, democratically elected representatives in states like Iowa have tried to defend innocent human life only to be stymied by the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade,” Reynolds said in a statement, KCCI reported. “For too long, this precedent has trampled on state sovereignty and destroyed the lives of millions of unborn babies. I am proud to join with governors from across the country to take a stand for life and democratic self-government.”
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Texas Heartbeat Act in a ruling on September 1. The law bans doctors from performing or inducing an abortion if a heartbeat of the preborn human is detected. Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini R-Howey-in-the-Hills announced on September 1 that he would introduce a bill mirroring Texas’ law in the 2022 legislative session.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported to legislative staff in July that there were 4,058 abortions performed in 2020, up 3,566 from 2019, the Associated Press reported.
“We think there’s a decent shot that the current makeup of the Iowa Supreme Court will reverse that prior bad ruling from 2018,” Hurley told The Center Square in a voicemail.
Hurley said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will “probably” have filed its briefs within about 40 days and that the Iowa Supreme Court would write its opinion by June 2022.
Read the amicus brief below: