Why an Iowa judge blocked a six-week abortion ban

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Abortion rights groups celebrated a judge’s decision to continue an order blocking an Iowa law that could ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

The ACLU of Iowa says it comes down to three key reasons: The judge found she had no power to overturn the previous judgment, she couldn’t ignore those rules even if she wanted to, and most importantly she says the law would violate current legal standards.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds had asked the judge to allow the law to take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, and the Iowa Supreme Court later found the state constitution didn’t include a right to an abortion.

But, critically, the district court judge found the law would still violate the state constitution even under the new rules set up by the Iowa Supreme Court.

“We’re talking about a pre-viability abortion ban. It’s going to virtually wipe out abortion care in our state. And so it would violate that undue burden standard that the (Iowa Supreme) Court said applied,” said Rita Bettis Austen, the legal director for the ACLU of Iowa.

After the fall of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood in Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Minnesota saw a 13% increase in abortions, especially in the second trimester. That’s why a Planned Parenthood of the North Central States spokesperson said this ruling was so important: It kept abortions available in Iowa.

”I want to be clear that we are serving many Iowans with the abortion care that they deserve. And we are also seeing patients from South Dakota, Texas, Florida, and many other places hundreds of miles from Iowa,” said Mazie Stilwell, the North Central States Iowa public affairs director.

After the ruling, Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds issued a statement. She said, in part, that she’ll continue to “fight for the unborn.” Both the ACLU and Planned Parenthood said today that they expect the governor’s office to appeal.

Right now, the ACLU says they believe the block on the six-week abortion ban will stay in place at least into next summer, even if the Iowa Supreme Court takes up the case on an expedited basis.