Iowa court: Abortion not protected by state constitution

Friday’s ruling comes amid expectations that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Then Iowa lawmakers could ban abortion in the state without completing the lengthy process of amending the state constitution.

The Iowa decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed by abortion providers who challenged a 2020 law that required a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion. A judge who struck down the law cited the state high court’s 2018 ruling. The judge also concluded the law violated rules prohibiting passage of bills with more than one subject.

The state Supreme Court returned the waiting period case to district court.

In its 2018 ruling, decided by a 5-2 vote, the court said “autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free.”

The reversal of a decision after just four years reflects a dramatic change in the court’s makeup. Gov. Kim Reynolds has named four justices since 2017, so six of the seven people on the court have been appointed by Republican governors.

Reynolds, an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, and Republicans in the Legislature have repeatedly said they hoped the court would overturn the 2018 ruling. With that in mind, Reynolds and GOP lawmakers gave the governor more control over the panel that chooses which lawyers and judges are nominated for court positions.

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