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.