The Iowa Supreme Court reportedly upheld a lower court judgment that blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban in a divided decision.
Before Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court was divided 3-3, upholding the judgment of an Iowa district court that blocked the ban.
A week prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 that abortion was not a fundamental right under the state constitution, overturning the 2019 decision of its more liberal predecessors.
Reynolds moved to withdraw the injunction against her fetal heartbeat law in light of the federal and state constitutional changes.
Reynolds signed the heartbeat measure in 2018 — before Dobbs. This means that it could not take effect under the Roe decision and was prohibited by a prior court decision.
By recusing herself from the case, Justice Dana Oxley helped pave the way for the divided verdict, which favored those seeking to interfere with the ban.
Justice Thomas Waterman authored the opinion in favor of Planned Parenthood, whereas Justices Christopher McDonald and Matthew McDermott authored the opinions in favor of the state.
Even though the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the federal Constitution in Dobbs, Waterman argued that the Iowa Supreme Court must interpret only the Iowa Constitution and is not required to interpret the state’s constitution in the same manner that SCOTUS interpreted the federal constitution.
Waterman also contended that the legislature would need to pass the law again in light of the new rulings because it understood the law had no chance of becoming effective.
The Iowa General Assembly is currently intending on adopting a new “life amendment,” which would amend the state constitution to state that there is no constitutional right to abortion in Iowa. If the amendment is approved by the legislature, it will be placed on the 2024 ballot for voter consideration.