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Iowa leaders want its halted abortion law to go into effect. The state's high court will rule Friday


DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court is expected to weigh in Friday on the state’s temporarily blocked abortion law, which prohibits abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

With the law on hold, abortion is legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. On Friday, the justices could uphold or reject a lower court ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of the law, with or without offering comments on whether the law itself is constitutional. Both supporters of the law and the abortion providers opposed to it were preparing for the various possibilities.

The high court’s highly anticipated ruling will be the latest in an already yearslong legal battle over abortion restrictions in the state that escalated when the Iowa Supreme Court and then the U.S. Supreme Court both overturned decisions establishing a constitutional right to abortion.

Most Republican-led states across the country have limited abortion access since 2022, when Roe v. Wade was overturned. Currently, 14 states have near-total bans at all stages of pregnancy, and three ban abortions at about six weeks.

The Iowa law passed with exclusively Republican support in a one-day special session last July. A legal challenge was filed the next day by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic.

The law was in effect for a few days before a district court judge put it on pause, a decision Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds appealed.

Iowa’s high court has not yet resolved whether earlier rulings that applied an “undue burden test” for abortion laws should remain in effect. The undue burden test is an intermediate level of analysis that questions whether laws create too significant an obstacle to abortion.

The state argued the law should be analyzed using rational basis review, the least strict approach to judging legal challenges, and the court should simply weigh whether the government has a legitimate interest in restricting the procedure.

Representing the state during oral arguments in April, attorney Eric Wessan said that the bench already indicated what’s appropriate in this case when they ruled that there’s no “fundamental right” to abortion in the state constitution.

“This court has never before recognized a quasi-fundamental or a fundamental-ish right,” he said.

But Peter Im, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, told the justices there are core constitutional rights at stake that merit the court’s consideration of whether there is too heavy a burden on people seeking abortion access.

“It is emphatically this court’s role and duty to say how the Iowa Constitution protects individual rights, how it protects bodily autonomy, how it protects Iowans’ rights to exercise dominion over their own bodies,” he said.



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