The law, which would have mandated at least a 24-hour delay in accessing abortion services after an unnecessary additional visit to a health center, will be blocked while the court considers Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the State.
Law would cause excessive hardship for low-income Iowans, requiring many to take time off work or school, arrange and pay for child care, and often drive hours to get health care.
Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa's 24-hour mandatory delay abortion law, passed by the Iowa Legislature in the middle of the night without advance notice or public input, was temporarily blocked today in a ruling by the Johnson County District Court.
The law would have gone into effect tomorrow, July 1, but the injunction temporarily puts it on hold while the court considers whether the law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Dr. Jill Meadows, represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the ACLU of Iowa, seeks for the medically unnecessary and burdensome law to be declared unconstitutional and to be permanently struck down.
"We're glad that patients can seek abortion care without the burden of a state-mandated delay and extra appointment," said Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States. "I want to be sure all Iowans know their access to safe, legal abortion remains the same. Many of our patients drive hours to their appointments, and to require a second, medically unnecessary visit creates serious obstacles. Many must take off time from work, arrange and pay for child care, and find transportation and this law would add more barriers to necessary health care in the middle of a pandemic. Iowans need improved access to sexual and reproductive health care, especially now. We’ll keep fighting to make that happen."
"This order temporarily blocking the so-called 24-hour waiting period law is vital to protecting abortion access in Iowa while the case is litigated," said ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen. "We are grateful to the district court for its attention to this important and time-sensitive case. The Iowa Supreme Court has recognized that the right to a safe, legal abortion is a fundamental right protected by our constitution, and today’s decision protects that right."
In a precise and well-written opinion, the district court determined that "(i)f the Amendment is permitted to take effect, Petitioners will be delayed, or in some cases, entirely deprived of a fundamental right under the Constitution." It recognized "the evidence of the psychological and physical harm that can result to a patient who is deprived of this fundamental right."
The district court determined that COVID-19 exacerbated the harms of the delay and additional trip law stating: "As they were with the 72-hour waiting period at issue in PPHI, Petitioners are likely to be able to show substantially the same burden and harms to patients subject to a 24-hour waiting period, such as was shown in PPHI. This is particularly true in light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, considering the 24-hour waiting period requirement would necessitate multiple trips to Petitioners’ health care centers."
In finding a high likelihood of success on Petitioners’ single-subject rule claim, the district court cited the undisputed fact that "most Iowans would have been asleep by the time the Amendment was passed in final form." It also cited the fact that "the Speaker of the Iowa House apparently found that the Amendment was not germane to the underlying bill it was amending."
For more information about the legislation and more quotes, please see our press release issued at the time the lawsuit was filed.
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.