Iowa City, Iowa — Today Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed to voluntarily dismiss litigation on the so-called "24-hour waiting period" law that unnecessarily delays getting an abortion in Iowa.
A lower court initially blocked the State of Iowa from implementing the waiting period law, but then the state appealed. The Iowa Supreme Court on June 17 unblocked the law in a decision that also overturned the legal standard that had been adopted by the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court in a different abortion case. In its June 17 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court also allowed the waiting period law to go into effect and returned the case to the district court for any further proceedings.
Then on June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, changing the legal landscape for abortion across the country.
To be clear, abortion remains legal in Iowa.
Planned Parenthood North Central States Iowa Public Affairs Director Mazie Stilwell said, "Let me be clear–the motion filed today does not mean we are giving up in our fight to keep abortion safe and legal in Iowa–quite the opposite. We are instead intentionally shifting our time and resources away from this case to other looming battles, including the constitutional amendment stripping Iowans of their right to abortion and the Governor’s announced attempt to revive a six-week ban. We know that most Iowans support safe and legal abortion and value their reproductive freedom. We will never stop fighting to preserve our rights and take politicians out of our health care choices."
ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen said, "It was an extremely difficult decision to dismiss this case, knowing the harms that a mandatory delay law imposes on Iowans who need abortion care. Iowa politicians should never have passed this law, which has no medical basis and only makes accessing abortion more difficult. Like so many Iowans, we are devastated that the Iowa Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect after we were earlier able to block it in court. We are also devastated by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe. But we have decided this step is necessary to focus our resources on fighting the Governor's efforts to reimpose an extreme, dangerous six-week ban and on making sure that abortion in Iowa remains legal."
Following the June decisions from the Iowa and U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a plan to try to revive a six-week abortion ban law in Iowa, which Planned Parenthood and the ACLU had successfully sued to block in 2019.
Also, Iowa currently is facing a potential amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would state that there is no right to an abortion in Iowa. The wording for the Iowa amendment would be even more extreme than the recent constitutional amendment that was voted down in Kansas. The Iowa constitutional amendment is likely to go before voters in the 2024 election, though it could be earlier.
The "24-hour" waiting period law's name is misleading because in practice, it frequently creates delays that are much longer than 24 hours. It increases costs for patients because they may have to take off even more time from work, experience additional travel time and expenses, and have to find additional childcare. For others experiencing intimate partner violence, the delay may increase the risk to their privacy and safety.
Combined with limited provider resources, "This delay can even push some patients past the point when they have the option to access medication abortion, and for others, puts abortion out of reach entirely. The law in practice can delay an abortion by several days or even by weeks," Bettis Austen said.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides, promotes, and protects reproductive and sexual health through health services, education, and advocacy. An affiliate of America’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care, PPHeartland is proud to offer a full range of high-quality services at health centers in Iowa and Nebraska.
The ACLU of Iowa is a private, non-partisan organization that fights to advance civil liberties for all. It is the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU prides itself in upholding everyone’s civil liberties, no matter who they are or what they believe. We work to assure the rights of all Iowans—from atheists to devout Christians, from labor unions to businesspeople and more—to make sure the constitutional rights of all are preserved.