May 4, 2022 - News

Iowa leaders likely to restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is reversed

Illustration of female symbol overlaying the steps of the Supreme Court.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Iowa lawmakers could move to join a group of states with so-called trigger laws immediately banning abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Iowans seeking an abortion would have to travel to other states to get the procedure, and the options nearby are limited.

  • Those who are physically or financially unable to travel long distances would be disproportionately affected, Sarah Stoesz, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS), told reporters Tuesday.

Driving the news: Politico reported a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade late Monday.

The potential impact: If the high court were to ultimately overturn the 1973 ruling, abortion would no longer be federally protected, leaving a patchwork of state laws to govern the procedure, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.

  • Abortion would become immediately illegal in at least 13 states, including North and South Dakota.

Between the lines: No immediate ban would take place in Iowa. But Schmidt predicts Republicans will likely try to pass new restrictions or revive a 2018 law to ban nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which was blocked by a federal court.

Of note: Nearly 60% of Iowans said last year that abortions should be legal in most or all cases, according to a September 2021 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

What they're saying: Iowa politics are volatile and now is the time to mobilize support for women's right to choose, Sarah Traxler, PPNCS' chief medical officer, said Tuesday.

  • Traxler estimates demand for abortion providers would increase 10% to 25% in nearby states where the service isn't banned or severely restricted.

Republicans, meanwhile, signaled they're ready to act.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a Twitter post Tuesday that the mission to end abortion is as clear as it ever been.

What to watch: Some local governments are passing ordinances to make themselves so-called "sanctuary cities for the unborn," Traxler said.

  • Willey City Council, which represents a town of around 100 people in western Iowa, unanimously voted Monday to ban abortion within its boundaries.

What's next: The Supreme Court's ruling is expected in the next two months.


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