An Iowa judge has temporarily blocked the enforcement of a new law requiring women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion while a legal challenge is argued in the courts.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the law Monday afternoon. It was set to take effect Wednesday, but Judge Mitchell Turner issued a temporary injunction preventing it from taking effect until a lawsuit is resolved.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sued Reynolds, the Iowa Board of Medicine and the state of Iowa last week, asking to first temporarily block the law’s implementation while the lawsuit is resolved, and then to strike down the waiting period requirement as unconstitutional based on equal protection and due process grounds.
The law says a woman cannot have an abortion for at least 24 hours after an initial appointment. At that appointment, the woman must be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound scan of the fetus and information about abortion and other options, including adoption.
The Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature passed the law in an overnight session earlier this month shortly before adjourning for the year.
A Planned Parenthood lawyer argued at the Tuesday hearing that the law would immediately have harmful effects if enacted, pointing to over 100 abortions that have already been scheduled on or after Wednesday.
An assistant Iowa attorney general argued Tuesday that Planned Parenthood hadn’t met the legal threshold to temporarily block the law from taking effect while the challenge is resolved. But Turner concluded that Planned Parenthood does meet the requirements to bring a lawsuit on behalf of its patients.
Planned Parenthood has successfully challenged abortion restrictions in Iowa in recent years. In 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a longer, 72-hour waiting period to receive an abortion in a 5-2 ruling. In the process, the court found that the Iowa Constitution protects women’s ability to have an abortion as a fundamental right.
In 2019, a Polk County judge ruled a “fetal heartbeat” law, which would have effectively outlawed most abortions, was unconstitutional. Reynolds, who had signed the bill, declined to appeal that ruling.
Eighteen states currently require women to wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Indiana has an 18-hour waiting period. Eight more states have longer waiting periods of either 48 or 72 hours.
And, since the 2018 decision, Reynolds has appointed four new justices to the Iowa Supreme Court. Only one justice who remains on the seven-member court was appointed by a Democrat.