Reynolds Asks IA SUPCO To Revisit Abortion Cases

(Des Moines, IA) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is announcing two legal actions after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs:

  1. Gov. Reynolds will urge the Iowa Supreme Court to rehear Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds (known as PPH IV), in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.  
  2. Gov. Reynolds will request that the Iowa courts lift the injunction against enforcement of Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law. 

“Now is the time for us to stand up and continue the fight to protect the unborn,” said. Gov. Reynolds. “The Supreme Court’s historic decision reaffirms that states have the right to protect the innocent and defenseless unborn—and now it’s time for our state to do just that. As governor, I will do whatever it takes to defend the most important freedom there is: the right to life.” 

“Since coming into the majority, Senate Republicans have led on the issue of life,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. “In 2018 the Heartbeat Bill created significant momentum across the country for conservative states to initiate legislation to protect the unborn. One of those state laws led to the historic Dobbs decision by the US Supreme Court last week, opening the path for the 2018 law to be implemented in Iowa. I support the decision to put these laws back in front of the Court to protect life in Iowa.” 

“For far too long, flawed Court rulings at the state and federal levels have blocked many of our attempts to listen to Iowans and expand pro-life protections,” said Speaker Pat Grassley. “Iowa House Republicans’ goal is to protect the lives of the unborn. That’s why I support the Governor’s decision on these legal actions as the best path forward to protect innocent life.” 

Gov. Reynolds is retaining Alliance Defending Freedom and Iowa attorney Alan Ostergren, President and Chief Counsel of the Kirkwood Institute, to represent the State at no cost to Iowa taxpayers.  Attorney General Tom Miller has also stated that he will be withdrawing from representing the State in these matters.

Gov. Reynolds is announcing today two legal actions:  

1. Gov. Reynolds will urge the Iowa Supreme Court to rehear Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds (known as PPH IV) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.  

When the Iowa Supreme Court released its decision on June 17 in PPH IV, the U.S. Supreme Court had not issued Dobbs. But Justice Mansfield recognized that Dobbs would be released soon and acknowledged that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision “could alter the federal constitutional landscape established by Roe and Casey'' and “provide insights that [the Iowa Supreme Court is] currently lacking.” 

The U.S. Supreme Court provided those insights in Dobbs and thus the Iowa Supreme Court may now re-decide PPH IV with the wisdom of that ruling. Most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the “undue burden” standard as an “arbitrary” test that has “caused confusion and disagreement” among courts trying to apply it. In its place, the Court adopted a “rational basis” test under which a law regulating abortion “must be sustained if there is a rational basis on which the legislature could have thought that it would serve legitimate state interests.” 

The Governor will be filing for rehearing by this Friday’s deadline.  

2. Gov. Reynolds will request that the Iowa courts lift the injunction against enforcement of Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law. 

In 2018, the legislature passed and Gov. Reynolds signed a law outlawing abortion at six weeks, when the baby’s heartbeat can first be detected. A Polk County district court judge enjoined that law, prohibiting Iowa officials from enforcing it, based upon the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in PPH II where the Court erroneously created a fundamental right to abortion. Because the Iowa Supreme Court has now overruled that 2018 ruling and rejected the “strict scrutiny” standard it adopted. Gov. Reynolds will ask the district court to lift the injunction against the heartbeat law.  

While this litigation moves forward to protect the unborn, Iowa’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks is still in effect. 

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