Iowa Supreme Court says abortion not protected under state’s constitution

As the nation anxiously awaits a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that could reverse the landmark abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade, the Iowa high court on Friday overturned a 2018 precedent of its own, now finding that the state constitution does not provide for a fundamental right to undergo the procedure, as the Des Moines Register reports.

The outcome in the case could prove truly pivotal if a leaked draft opinion from the nation’s highest court does indeed hold, and a majority of the justices declare that there is similarly no such right yielded by the U.S. constitution, and it could pave the way for legislators in Iowa to pass substantially more stringent abortion restrictions.

As the Register noted, the ruling came as the result of a legal challenged raised in response to a 2020 state law that instituted a 24-hour waiting period for a woman could obtain an abortion, a provision the implementation of which had previously been blocked by a lower court judge.

In its decision, the Iowa panel declared that its prior determination that the state constitution did establish a right to abortion “insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake” and sent the controversy over the waiting period back for reconsideration by the court below.

It is worth noting that even though the court found that no state constitutional right to abortion exists in Iowa, the panel clearly stated that it was not weighing in on precisely what standard should replace the strict scrutiny examination that previously would have applied to laws attempting to restrict the procedure’s availability.

Heralding the result on Friday was Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who in a statement declared, “Today’s ruling is a significant victory in our fight to protect the unborn. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed its earlier 2018 decision, which made Iowa the most abortion-friendly state in the country.”

“Every life is sacred and should be protected, and as long as I’m governor, that is exactly what I will do,” Reynolds added.

Democrats, however, blasted the outcome, as the Register further noted, with House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst labeling the ruling “a step backwards for Iowa families,” and opining that “Iowans should always have the final say in making their own health care decisions, including abortion, without interference from politicians.”

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization potentially poised to overturn Roe in the days or weeks to come, more states may soon join Iowa in re-examining the issue of abortion and taking additional steps to safeguard the rights of the unborn.