Abortion Courts Health

Iowa Law Mandating 24-Hour Waiting Period for Abortion is Blocked by Judge

On Monday, an Iowa district judge blocked a law that required patients to observe a 24-hour waiting period before they could get an abortion.

The law, passed in 2020, was declared unconstitutional by Judge Mitchell Turner. He ruled that the law not only violated a 2018 decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court that protects the right to an abortion, but that the law also violated the single-subject rule in the Iowa Constitution because it was added to a bill as a nongermane amendment.  The single-subject rule mandates that a bill can only discuss one designated topic.

Turner had initially placed a temporary block on the 24-hour waiting period, but Monday’s ruling permanently blocks the law from going into effect. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the ACLU of Iowa, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America challenged the law.

Currently, Iowa bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.

Last June, Iowa legislators attached the amendment requiring a 24-hour waiting period on abortions to a bill about life-sustaining healthcare for minors. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds then signed the bill into law. Reynolds has said that she will be appealing Turner’s decision.

Turner, in his ruling, wrote that “the Amendment was clearly logrolled with other legislation, since the Amendment was attached to a non-controversial provision regarding withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures from a minor child.”

The ruling also found that the waiting-period requirement significantly affected low-income people seeking abortion care: “Moreover, the burdens imposed on women by the waiting period are substantial, especially for women without financial means … The Act requires poor and low-income women, which is a majority of PPH patients, to amass greater financial resources before obtaining the procedure.”

“Today the court confirmed what we knew when anti-abortion politicians in Des Moines rammed this legislation through—this medically unnecessary and harmful abortion restriction infringes on Iowans’ fundamental rights,” said Jamie Burch Elliott, the Iowa Public Affairs Director for Planned Parenthood North Central States, in a statement Tuesday.

“The Iowa Supreme Court has recognized that the right to safe, legal abortion is fundamental and protected by our constitution,” said Rita Bettis Austen, Legal Director of the ACLU of Iowa, “Today’s decision protects that right.”

Sources: CNN 6/23/21; Iowa District Court 6/21/21; Des Moines Register 6/23/21; ACLU of Iowa 6/22/21

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