Jun 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Iowa Supreme Court says abortion rights aren't protected by state constitution

The Iowa state flag flies outside the State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa flag flies outside the state Capitol building in Des Moines. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Iowa's Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights are not protected by the state constitution, a move that paves the way for lawmakers to ban abortions in the state.

Driving the news: "All we hold today is that the Iowa Constitution is not the source of a fundamental right to an abortion necessitating a strict scrutiny standard of review for regulations affecting that right," the court ruled.

State of play: Friday's ruling, made by a predominantly Republican group of justices, reverses a 2018 decision by the court saying the right to seek abortions was protected under the state's constitution.

  • The ruling comes after the state appealed a lower court decision in 2020 that challenged a law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for people in Iowa seeking abortions, Iowa Public Radio reports.
  • Since the 2018 ruling, Iowa lawmakers have faced increased hurdles trying to restrict abortions in the state, Axios' Linh Ta reports.

What they're saying: "Today’s ruling is a significant victory in our fight to protect the unborn. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed its earlier 2018 decision, which made Iowa the most abortion-friendly state in the country," Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said in a statement on Friday.

  • "Every life is sacred and should be protected, and as long as I’m governor that is exactly what I will do."

The other side: "Today's ruling is a step backwards for Iowa families. Iowans should always have the final say in making their own healthcare decisions, including abortion, without interference from politicians," Iowa House Democratic leader Jennifer Konfrst said.

  • "Like a large majority of Iowans, I believe in reproductive freedom because everyone deserves the right to decide when to start a family."

The big picture: Iowa's ruling comes as the U.S. Supreme Court nears a decision on abortion. A leaked draft document showed that the Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Go deeper... Iowa Supreme Court to issue abortion ruling Friday

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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