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Iowa Gov. signs 24 hour abortion waiting period into law

Planned Parenthood challenging the law in court.

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 7:12 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa - Governor Kim Reynolds on Monday signed into law a bill that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, trying again to institute a restriction similar to one struck down two years ago by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Reynolds signed the measure into law just after lawyers representing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the state wrapped up arguments before a state court judge. The court must now decide whether to halt immediately enforcement of the new law, which is set to take effect Wednesday.

“I am proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life,” the Republican governor said in a statement. "I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child.”

Planned Parenthood claims in a lawsuit filed last week that the bill is unconstitutional in the way it was passed in the middle of the night without public debate. The group argues that the bill also violates the due process and equal protection rights of women seeking an abortion, much like a 72-hour waiting period law the Iowa Supreme Court struck down in 2018.

“The situation feels like Groundhog Day because we were here only three years ago seeking the same emergency relief and litigating a mandatory delay law that was indistinguishable from this one,” said Alice Clapman, lawyer for Planned Parenthood.

The court in that ruling found not only that the waiting period law violated the constitutional rights of women but that the Iowa Constitution guarantees women the right to control their own bodies, which includes seeking an abortion.

Planned Parenthood is asking Judge Mitchell Turner to issue an injunction preventing the newly signed law from being enforced until a trial can be held to determine whether it's constitutional.

Turner pushed the state's lawyers to explain how Iowans' due process rights were met considering the Iowa House amended an unrelated law at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, and the Iowa Senate than gave final passage at 5 a.m. Sunday.

“Isn't the hallmark of due process the notion that people require notice and that the citizenry has a right to know what their legislatures are voting on? How does this not fly in the face of due process?” Turner asked.

Thomas Ogden, an assistant attorney general, said there's nothing wrong with hurriedly passing legislation overnight.

“The court's role is not to police the legislative process," Ogden said. “That is a role that is left solely with the people of Iowa.”

The new measure requires a woman to wait 24 hours after an initial appointment for an abortion before the procedure can be initiated. Clapman said that may force some women to wait months to get a second appointment and incur additional costs.

The bill signing and court case comes on a day when a divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

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