Iowa's Supreme Court rules 6-week abortion ban can be enforced

Iowa’s Supreme Court rules 6-week abortion ban can be enforced

The Iowa Supreme Court said Friday the state’s strict abortion law is legal, telling a lower court to dissolve a temporary block on the law and allowing Iowa to ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy — before many women know they are pregnant.

The 4-3 ruling is a win for Republican lawmakers, and Iowa joins more than a dozen other states with restrictive abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Currently, 14 states have near-total bans at all stages of pregnancy and three ban abortions at about six weeks.

with exclusively Republican support in an 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 that Reynolds appealed.

At the time, Planned Parenthood North Central States said it stayed open late and made hundreds of phone calls to prepare patients amid the uncertainty, rescheduling abortion appointments in other states for those who wanted. Court filings showed Iowa clinics had several hundred abortion appointments scheduled over two weeks last July, with most past the six-week mark in their pregnancies.

Since then, Planned Parenthood has ceased abortion services in two Iowa cities, including one in Des Moines. The other Des Moines location doesn’t currently have the capacity to serve patients seeking an abortion, so abortion medication and the procedure are being offered about 36 miles north in Ames.

Before Friday, Planned Parenthood providers had again been communicating with people seeking upcoming appointments about the potential outcomes of the high court’s decision, Masie Stilwell, the director of public affairs, told The Associated Press in early June. That included the possibility that abortion would no longer be legal for their circumstance and they would need to work with staff to reschedule in other states.

Abortion access stands to be a major issue in the 2024 election across the country, though it remains to be seen whether Friday’s decision will turn the tide in an increasingly red Iowa.

Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart said Friday that Republicans “went too far” with the restrictive law, and “Iowa voters will hold them accountable this November.”