66 photos from Keep Families Together rallies in Iowa

Despite heat advisories across most of the state, at least 2,000 Iowans turned out for rallies and marches on June 30 to oppose the Trump administration’s family separation policy and demand justice for immigrants.

Like the Women’s March and similar mass protests from the past two years, the Keep Families Together events were a target-rich environment for creative political signs and t-shirts. With thanks to those who gave permission to publish their photographs here, I’ve compiled some of my favorite images from the weekend.

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How Iowa's 20-week abortion ban could be overturned

Pro-choice advocates were jubilant about the Iowa Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down a major section of a 2017 anti-abortion law.

However, the other major piece of that law remains in effect: a near-total ban on abortions beyond 20 weeks “post-fertilization.” Speaking to reporters on June 29, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis asserted the 20-week ban is “clearly unconstitutional and a violation of women’s fundamental rights.” She declined to say whether the ACLU will challenge that provision: “We don’t forecast our litigation strategy.”

Although I am not an attorney, I am a third-generation supporter of reproductive rights in Iowa. So I’ve been thinking about how a case could get the 20-week ban before the Iowa Supreme Court.

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Iowa Supreme Court holds state constitution protects right to abortion

Five Iowa Supreme Court justices ruled today that a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for all women seeking abortion violates due process rights and equal protection guaranteed under the state constitution. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa had challenged that provision, part of a law Republican legislators and Governor Terry Branstad enacted in 2017.

Today’s decision guarantees that the 2018 law banning almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected will be struck down. A lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Iowa, and the Emma Goldman Clinic is pending in Polk County District Court.

In addition, the ruling indicates that even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the coming years, Republicans will be unable to ban or severely restrict abortion rights in our state.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Mark Cady rejected the “undue burden” standard for evaluating abortion restrictions, set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1992 Casey decision. I enclose below the full text of the majority opinion and the dissent by Justice Edward Mansfield, whom President Donald Trump has named as a possible U.S. Supreme Court pick. I’ve excerpted some of the most important passages.

A separate section of the 2017 law, banning almost all abortions after 20 weeks gestation, was not challenged in this case and remains in effect.

Some Iowa judicial trivia: today marks the second time the Iowa Supreme Court has overturned an abortion-related ruling by Polk County District Court Judge Jeffrey Farrell. He had also upheld the administrative rule banning the use of telemedicine for abortion. The Supreme Court unanimously struck down that rule in 2015.

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Iowa court strikes down state ban on Medicaid coverage for transgender care

A two-decade-old state administrative rule “clearly discriminates against transgender Medicaid recipients on the basis of gender identity by excluding coverage for medically necessary gender affirming surgery” while covering the same surgeries for non-transgender Iowans, a Polk County District Court ruled on June 7. Chief Judge Arthur Gamble found the rule violates both Article I, section 6 of the Iowa Constitution, which guarantees equal protection, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which has prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity since 2007.

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Iowa abortion ban blocked for now; litigation may last years

Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert has granted a temporary injunction to prevent Iowa’s near-total ban on abortion from going into effect on July 1. Attorneys from the Thomas More Society, a conservative Chicago law firm representing the state pro bono, did not object to the injunction at today’s hearing, Stephen Gruber-Miller reported for the Des Moines Register.

Senate File 359 outlaws almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, with very few exceptions. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, and the Emma Goldman Clinic filed suit last month, citing three ways in which the law violates rights guaranteed under the Iowa Constitution.

Advocates for the law have expressed hope that the case could eventually prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. Plaintiffs structured the case to keep the litigation in state court, because if the Iowa Supreme Court finds the state constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, there will be no path to appeal in federal courts. UPDATE: To clarify, some cases filed in state court can be appealed to federal courts. However, all claims in this lawsuit are grounded in alleged violations of the Iowa Constitution: specifically, due process rights, “inalienable rights of persons to liberty, safety, and happiness,” and equal protection. Plaintiffs are not claiming the abortion ban violates any rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

This law will never be enforced, because it is obviously unconstitutional. Some readers have asked whether the case might be resolved before the November election. That’s extraordinarily unlikely. A timeline of events in Iowa’s last legal battle over abortion rights suggests it could be years before the Iowa Supreme Court decides this case.

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Groups sue to block abortion ban; Iowa AG won't defend law (updated)

UPDATE: Have added the plaintiffs’ court filings at the end of this post.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and the Iowa City-based Emma Goldman Clinic filed suit today to block the new state ban on almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. I enclose below the full statement from the groups and will post the court filing once that document becomes available. The Polk County District Court is certain to put a stay on Senate File 359 (which would have taken effect July 1) while litigation is pending.

Attorney General Tom Miller “has disqualified himself from representing the state” in this case, Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson informed Iowa’s Executive Council today. Miller took that step after determining “he could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.” The attorney general recommends that the Executive Council authorize the Thomas More Society to defend the law. That conservative group has offered its legal services at no cost to the state.

Miller’s decision is telling, because a few years ago, the Iowa Attorney General’s office defended the state administrative rule seeking to ban the use of telemedicine to provide medical abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics around the state. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously found that policy created an “undue burden” for women seeking an abortion. You can read that decision in full here.

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