Judge temporarily blocks Iowa law requiring 24-hour waiting period for abortion

Executive Director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center Janet Lyons points to a plastic replica of a fetus at twelve weeks which is used to show women who come into the center to find out if they are pregnant and what the stage of growth looks like, in Waterloo, Iowa, July 6, 2011. | REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

A judge has put a temporary block on a newly signed Iowa law that would require a woman seeking an abortion to wait at least 24 hours before undergoing the procedure.

The block on Tuesday prevents House File 594 from taking effect, which was scheduled for Wednesday. The law also also prohibited a court of law or equity from withdrawing “life-sustaining procedures” from a child against the wishes of a parent unless the child had died.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed it into law on Monday, saying she was “proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life.”

“Life is precious, life is sacred, and we can never stop fighting for it. I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child,” stated the governor.

The Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit to strike the bill down even before Reynolds signed it.

Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa executive director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, claimed in a statement in June that the law would “delay a person's ability to get an abortion by weeks.”

“Many of our patients must drive four or more hours one-way for abortion services, so this legislation will only create more hurdles to getting care,” stated Davison-Rippey.

“It's already hard enough for many Iowans to access abortion services, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. This is clearly a political ploy to create barriers to sexual and reproductive health care in Iowa.”

Bob Vander Plaats of the socially conservative group The Family Leader defended the law to local news media outlet KCCI of Des Moines.

“We think the 24-hour waiting period is a very reasonable waiting period to give a woman the opportunity to decide if she really wants to go through with this after taking a second look at the ultrasound,” said Vander Plaats.

In June 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled 5-2 to strike down a state law that required a 72-hour waiting period before allowing an abortion procedure.

“In truth, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that the Act will not result in a measurable number of women choosing to continue a pregnancy they would have terminated without a mandatory 72-hour waiting period,” concluded the court’s majority.

“Moreover, the burdens imposed on women by the waiting period are substantial, especially for women without financial means. Under the Act, patients will need to make two trips to a [Planned Parenthood of the Heartland] clinic since it is likely they would not be readily able to obtain certification from a local, non-PPH provider.”

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