Iowa judge temporarily halts 6-week abortion law

The temporary injunction comes after the bill was signed on Friday.

July 17, 2023, 8:09 PM

Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin on Monday temporarily blocked Iowa's six-week abortion ban bill that ceased nearly all abortions in the state for 72 hours. The legislation was signed on Friday by Gov. Kim Reynolds after state lawmakers held a special session Tuesday with the "sole purpose" of passing the legislation.

“Today’s ruling means Iowans will once again have access to safe and legal abortion, and control over their bodily autonomy as this harmful law makes its way through the courts,” Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States said on a call with press.

With the block in place, abortion in the state is once again legal up to 20 weeks, while the challenge brought by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman clinic and Planned Parenthood Medical Director Dr. Sarah Traxler moves through the state's court system.

“The court will grant the temporary injunction requested here. In doing so, it recognizes that there are good, honorable and intelligent people - morally, politically and legally - on both sides of this upsetting societal and constitutional dilemma,” Judge Seidlin’s conclusion read. "The court believes it must follow current Iowa Supreme Court precedent and preserve the status quo ante while this litigation and adversarial presentation which our Supreme Court has invited moves forward."

The previous abortion ban, signed into law by Reynolds in 2018, also prevented abortion after six weeks. However, the law was permanently struck down by a district court in January 2019, which ruled the law violated the Iowa constitution, and there was no state interest in banning abortions so early in pregnancy as it presented.

"The current state of the law in Iowa remains, at least for the time being, that some level of constitutional protection applies to women seeking abortion in Iowa, requiring an undue burden standard for analysis," Seidlin stated Monday. "Therefore, there also remains an underlying justification for the Petitioners’ standing to assert the constitutional rights of women seeking abortions in Iowa."

Gov. Reynolds responded to the court's decision on Monday, vowing to fight it.

“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today, but I will fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court, where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn," she said in a statement.