# Planned Parenthood



Iowa Supreme Court's abortion reversal may cast long shadow

Five Iowa Supreme Court justices allowed a 24-hour waiting period for all abortions to go into effect and opened the door to more sweeping restrictions on June 17, when justices overturned the court’s 2018 precedent that had found the Iowa Constitution protects a fundamental right to seek an abortion.

The outcome is precisely what Republican legislators were seeking two years ago, when (buoyed by unusually rapid turnover on Iowa’s highest court) they passed a law nearly identical to the one struck down in the 2018 case.

Two dissenting justices warned that the latest decision injects “instability” and “confusion” into Iowa’s legal landscape, because the court’s majority did not establish a new standard for evaluating the constitutionality of abortion restrictions. Two justices signaled they would allow almost any limits on the procedure. Three justices indicated they might be open to a similar approach, or might strike a different balance that recognizes some bodily autonomy for Iowans wanting to terminate a pregnancy.

In the words of Justice Brent Appel, the majority set forth “a jurisprudence of doubt about a liberty interest of the highest possible importance to every Iowa woman of reproductive age.”

The ruling may also undermine public confidence that Iowa Supreme Court rulings are grounded in legal analysis, rather than politics.

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Iowa Republicans fund anti-abortion clinics but not proven maternal health solutions

Iowa’s health and human services budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $500,000 appropriation for a new “maternal health” initiative modeled on an ineffective, wasteful Texas program.

But the bill, negotiated by House and Senate Republicans and approved on party-line votes in both chambers May 23, does not extend postpartum coverage for Iowans on Medicaid, a documented way to reduce maternal mortality.

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Four ways (besides voting) to help preserve abortion access

It’s been a rough week for abortion rights advocates. Many of my own friends, relatives, and acquaintances feel helpless and hopeless in the face of Roe v Wade‘s likely demise. These people don’t need to be reminded to vote. But voting for Democrats hasn’t stopped the rollback of reproductive rights. Anyway, the next opportunity to vote for pro-choice candidates is six months away.

If you believe no one should be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy, here are some concrete ways to help keep abortion available for those who need the procedure.

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Planned Parenthood in Iowa's region preparing for post-Roe reality

The Planned Parenthood affiliate that includes Iowa is preparing for an influx of patients seeking abortions from states where the procedure may soon be banned.

Since 2018, Iowa has been part of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which also provides reproductive health care services in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Both of the Dakotas have enacted “trigger” laws, which would immediately ban abortion as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade precedent. An effort to pass a similar law in Nebraska failed last month, but proponents have vowed to try again later this year.

Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States, told reporters during a May 3 news conference that the organization’s regional and national leaders have long “been planning for this worst-case scenario.”

She promised, “We’re going to be here for the long haul, and we’re going to fight to make sure that this is accessible to everybody.”

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What could happen in Iowa after Roe is overturned

Five U.S. Supreme Court justices will soon overturn the Roe v Wade and Casey decisions, according to a draft majority opinion obtained by Politico. Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward published excerpts from the draft, which author Justice Samuel Alito circulated in February.

Assuming the court overrules Roe sometime in the next two months, abortion will become illegal immediately in more than a dozen states. Other Republican-controlled states, including Iowa, will likely pass total or near-total abortion bans soon after.

But any such law could not take effect here as long as a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court precedent stands. In that case, the majority held that the Iowa Constitution protects a fundamental right “to decide whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy,” and any limits on that right are subject to strict scrutiny.

That ruling could be overturned in two ways.

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Iowa abortions increase for second straight year

About 14 percent more abortions were performed in Iowa during calendar year 2020 compared to the previous year, indicating that a sharp increase recorded in 2019 was not a one-off.

Iowa Department of Public Health data shows 4,058 pregnancy terminations occurred during 2020, up from 3,566 abortions performed in 2019. That number represented a 25 percent increase from the 2,849 abortions recorded in 2018.

Prior to 2019, abortions were on a steady downward trend in Iowa and nationally for at least a decade. The figure recorded for 2020 was the highest since 2013.

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