Iowa’s highest court rejects abortion rights, reinstates waiting period law

June 17 (Reuters) – Iowa’s highest court ruled on Friday that the state’s constitution does not include a “fundamental right” to abortion, reversing its own finding from four years ago and reinstating a law requiring women to wait 24 hours after a first appointment before having an abortion.

The Iowa Supreme Court’s 5-2 ruling overturned a lower court ruling that blocked the law, which had been challenged by a Planned Parenthood affiliate. It comes as the United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a landmark ruling in the coming weeks that could significantly restrict abortion rights nationwide.

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said the group was “deeply disappointed” with the decision.

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The group also noted that the ruling still leaves room to challenge the 24-hour waiting period in lower court on the grounds that it places an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, and said that he would pursue this challenge.

Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller’s office, which championed the law, declined to comment.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the 24-hour waiting period law in 2020. The state Supreme Court struck down an earlier law imposing a 72-hour waiting period in 2018 , concluding that the state constitution included a fundamental right to abortion.

Judge Edward Mansfield, writing for the majority on Friday, said the 2018 decision was “flawed” and “one-sided”.

Chief Justice Susan Christensen, in a dissent, said the court was too quick to reverse its earlier decision. She noted that four of the seven current judges — including herself — had been appointed since 2018 by Reynolds.

If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down abortion rights, state-level legal battles over the issue will likely become more frequent as Republican-led states move quickly to enact new abortion restrictions. Read more

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Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Mark Porter and Alexia Garamfalvi

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