Block on Iowa’s strict abortion law can be appealed, state Supreme Court says

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds can proceed with an appeal on a temporary block on the state’s new, restrictive abortion law, the Iowa Supreme Court said Tuesday.

Reynolds announced her intentions to appeal last week and said it was “just a matter of time” before lawyers for the state filed the request, which they did Friday. The Iowa Supreme Court had to say whether the request could move forward.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the measure to ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy during a July 11 special session, and the law went into effect days later, immediately after Reynolds signed it. The ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic launched a legal challenge and Judge Joseph Seidlin on July 17 granted their request to pause the law as the courts assess its constitutionality.

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Abortion remains legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the new law is on hold.

Reynolds is asking the state Supreme Court to override the lower court’s ruling and allow the law to go back into effect. The full court considered Reynolds’ application for appeal, but a spokesperson declined to say whether all the justices will also consider the appeal itself.

A justice’s recusal led to a rare 3-3 decision in June and left the block intact on the nearly identical 2018 law, prompting Reynolds to call the special session. The 2018 law was passed despite state and federal court decisions at the time, including Roe, that affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. Both courts reversed those decisions last year.

The state Supreme Court can rule on the temporary injunction alone, or it can decide to fast-forward a decision on merits of the law itself.