116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that 50 years ago established the fundamental right to abortion, Iowa lawmakers are free to dramatically reduce or outlaw the procedure in the state.
The reversal of the 1973 case puts the power back into the states’ hands to decide the future of abortion access for its residents, meaning the ruling’s impact will vary state to state. According to the Guttmacher Institute, at least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion in the near future.
In Iowa — where Republican leadership has attempted for years with some success to restrict abortion — access to the procedure is likely at risk. Iowa Republicans, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, heralded the ruling and vowed to continue to protect the unborn.
No restrictions went into effect in Iowa with the court ruling, and abortion remains legal in the state up until 20 weeks. Planned Parenthood clinics across Iowa and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City remain open and patient care continues.
However, that’s not true for other states. “Trigger laws” in North Dakota and South Dakota, passed in anticipation of the ruling, went into effect Friday, news reports showed.
Iowa GOP applauds ruling
Reynolds lauded the court for upholding the “enduring truth” that “all human beings, without exception, are created equal.”
“By that measure, today’s historic decision is clearly one such moment,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But the fight for life is not over. As governor, I won’t rest until every unborn Iowan is protected and respected.”
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Harford, echoed Reynolds, stating the court “restored a fundamental truth Iowa Republicans have always known — life is precious.”
“Iowa House Republicans will continue to protect the innocent lives of unborn children," Grassley said in a statement.
Reynolds and legislative leaders did not respond to messages Friday as to whether they would call a special session of the Iowa Legislature to take up a new abortion law.
Republican leaders in the Legislature previously have pushed for further abortion restrictions in Iowa. In 2020, they passed a proposal — which was signed into law — that enacted a 24-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion.
The federal ruling also follows the Iowa Supreme Court decision last week to overturn a 2018 ruling that the state’s constitution had provided a fundamental right to abortion. In the 182-page ruling released June 17, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote the previous ruling "insufficiently recognizes that future human lives are at stake.”
It sent the case back to a lower court for reconsideration, but the decision was a dramatic reversal of precedent in Iowa.
Other Republican policymakers reacted to Friday’s news, praising the federal court.
“I’m proudly and adamantly pro-life. This decision reflects the science, will save lives and rightly returns policymaking power back to the American people and their elected officials,” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said in a statement.
Republican Iowa U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley echoed Ernst’s statement, describing the reversal as a correction of “a flawed legal analysis.”
“This ruling does not ban the practice of abortion but instead empowers the people, through their accountable elected representatives to make common sense policy decisions. It takes policymaking out of the hands of unelected judges,” Grassley wrote.
Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion said the decision “will save countless lives.”
“In Congress, I will continue to champion pro-life policies and work to support expecting mothers and their babies,” Hinson said.
Iowa Democrats vow to “fight back”
To abortion providers and other supporters, the decision was a serious blow to women’s reproductive freedoms. In a call with reporters, Planned Parenthood North Central States President and Chief Executive Office Sarah Stoesz described the ruling as “devastating” and a “shattering moment for women.”
“Politicians are now in charge of our bodies in ways that they were not yesterday,” Stoesz said.
Planned Parenthood, Iowa’s largest abortion provider, emphasized abortions are continuing in states where it remains legal to do so. Organization leaders say they are hiring more staff and funneling resources to those states in anticipation of an influx of women traveling from out of state to seek abortion.
“We’ve been preparing for months and months to make sure that we’re able to care for patients,” Stoesz said.
ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen said “in the face of this shocking and dangerous decision, we will not give up the fight for abortion rights.”
Iowa Democrats vowed the fight to protect reproductive rights in Iowa is not over, stating Reynolds and Iowa Republicans “will do everything in their power to outlaw abortion in our state.”
“Iowa Democrats will continue to fight for every Iowan’s right to decide for themselves if, when, and with whom they want to have a family,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said during a Friday call with reporters.
“Today, when I woke up, I had freedom — more than my mother had,” said U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, Iowa’s lone Democrat in Congress. “And in the middle of the day I now have less freedom than my mom had.”
“ … This is not what America wants,” Axne said. “America has said clearly that women’s choice — women’s ability to control their own health care decisions — is strictly to be between themselves, their family and their doctor.”
According to the latest Gallup Poll, more than eight in 10 Americans believe abortion should be legal to some degree, and a majority did not want Roe v. Wade overturned. At the same time, the country remains far from unified on the extent to which abortion should be legal, according to Gallup.
Democrats said Friday’s ruling will not keep women from getting an abortion, but rather make abortions less safe for those without the means to travel to surrounding Midwestern states where abortion access has been upheld.
“So what this will do is just hinder American once again from opportunity from the decision to make their own health care decisions, from their ability to build their opportunities for their families and their careers,” Axne said.
She also pointed to a solo concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas, stating the court should reconsider rulings protecting contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.
“This is the tip of the iceberg for the Republican Party, and it starts with taking way the right that women have in this country,” she said.
Comments: (319) 398-8469; firstname.lastname@example.org