Media Contact

Sheena Dooley, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Communications Manager,

Veronica Lorson Fowler, ACLU of Iowa Communications Director,

Planned Parenthood Federation of America Media Office,

December 12, 2022

An update and a note:

Gov. Reynolds has since appealed the district court decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. Oral arguments in that appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court are to take place on Tuesday, April 11.

Also regarding terminology: Please note the recent update in AP style, which avoids the use of "fetal heartbeat" bill since this legislation addresses neither a fetus (it's still an embryo) nor a heartbeat (it hasn't yet developed a heart, only the beginings of a cardiac system).

Des Moines, Iowa — Today a district court ruled against Gov. Kim Reynolds’s attempt to resurrect an abortion ban law that she signed but the courts never allowed to go into effect. Abortion continues to be legal in Iowa.

In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed and Gov. Reynolds signed a law banning abortions—with few, narrow exceptions—at around six weeks. That is before many people even know they're pregnant. In 2019, the Polk County District Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional and permanently blocked it from going into effect.

But last summer, after Roe v. Wade was struck down and after the Iowa Supreme Court weakened protections for abortion rights, Gov. Reynolds tried to resurrect the abortion ban law in the courts.

Today, the district court said it will not dissolve the permanent injunction, which prevented the abortion ban from going into effect.

The court also said that the State of Iowa failed to demonstrate any substantial change in the law under the Iowa Constitution that would allow the abortion ban to take effect, so the law remains unconstitutional under the governing legal test in Iowa.

ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen said, “We are grateful and relieved by the decision today, which rejected the state’s unprecedented legal maneuvers to try to ban abortion in our state. This law was dangerous, cruel, and unconstitutional when the district court blocked it three years ago, and it’s still dangerous, cruel, and unconstitutional today. Many Iowans were depending on the outcome of the case today. Evidence in the case showed that the six-week ban would block more than 98 percent of abortions in our state. Even the supposed exceptions it had for rape, incest, and the life of the woman were poorly written, and extremely narrow, such that they would fail to protect people in those extremely difficult circumstances. The outcome of this case could not matter more to the health and basic rights of Iowans. We are honored to work with Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic to work to keep abortion safe and legal in Iowa moving forward.”

Planned Parenthood North Central States President and CEO Ruth Richardson said, “The district court’s decision is a huge win for abortion rights and bodily autonomy in Iowa. For now, abortion remains safe and legal in the state, and Iowans will continue to have control over their ability to determine their lives and futures. Every person deserves the right to make private health care decisions, not politicians or judges. We won the battle today and we will keep pushing to protect the reproductive freedom of Iowans.”

Francine Thompson, executive director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City said, “The Emma Goldman Clinic is pleased that Gov. Reynolds’s request to remove the injunction on a law that would ban abortion at about six weeks has been denied. This ruling, for the time being, provides Iowans with access to the reproductive health care they deserve. We are hopeful that our lawmakers will continue to protect an individual’s right to bodily autonomy and reproductive choices.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “We applaud the court’s decision to continue blocking this dangerous six-week abortion ban, which would put politicians in control of Iowans’ personal medical decisions. With abortion banned or severely restricted in many states across the region, Iowa remains a critical access point for patients seeking basic health care. We welcome this ruling, and we know that the fight is far from over in both the courts and in the legislature next session. Anti-abortion politicians will not stop their attacks on Iowans’ reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. Planned Parenthood remains committed to using every tool at our disposal to defend and protect patients’ fundamental right to abortion. No matter who you are or where you live, every person deserves access to safe, legal abortion.”

You can read the decision in full here.