In New Post-Dobbs Milestone, Iowa Becomes 15th State to Ban Abortion

In "another devastating blow for the Midwest," the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Iowa can soon impose its six-week abortion ban.

In New Post-Dobbs Milestone, Iowa Becomes 15th State to Ban Abortion

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state can impose its six-week abortion ban, and subsequently, become the 15th state in the nation to enact a total or near-total abortion ban since 2022. The 4-3 state Supreme Court ruling comes roughly one year after Iowa Republicans rushed the ban through a one-day special session, only to have it paused in court until this week. The ruling also blocks a lower court’s previous determination that the abortion ban was unconstitutional. This is because, the state Supreme Court reasoned, there is no more constitutional right to abortion—not since the Supreme Court killed Roe v. Wade.

Iowa’s ban offers some exceptions under limited, cruel conditions. The law allows abortion services for rape victims who report their rape to law enforcement within 45 days (even as rape is very rarely reported to police), as well as incest if it’s reported within 145 days, or if the fetus has an abnormality incompatible with life, or the pregnancy endangers the patient’s life. There’s no date set yet for the law to take effect, and abortion will remain legal, for now, as the case returns to the district court for further proceedings. This will take at least 21 days, per the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

In response to her colleagues favoring the abortion ban, Chief Justice Susan Christensen wrote a blistering dissent: “Today, our court’s majority strips Iowa women of their bodily autonomy by holding that there is no fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy under our state constitution. I cannot stand by this decision.”

In contrast, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) celebrated the ruling for “[upholding] the will of the people of Iowa,” even though a March poll showed over 60% of Iowans support abortion rights.

In a statement to Jezebel, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee National Press Secretary Sam Paisley called the ruling a “dark day for Iowans,” and warned that “state Republicans will only feel more empowered to strip away abortion access as Trump continues to promise to leave decisions around abortion and contraceptive access to the states.” 

This turn of events, around the two-year anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, is both devastating and ironic. The Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling comes a day after former President Trump lied during Thursday night’s presidential debate and said that overturning Roe helped make states more “liberal” towards abortion. Instead, Dobbs has allowed 14 states to ban abortion, with Iowa up next. The consequences have been tens of thousands of people forced to travel across state lines for basic health care, abortion funds across the country forced to spend millions, worsened outcomes for victims of gender-based violence, and alarming impacts on maternal and infant health.

Iowa’s abortion ban will also have wider, damning regional impacts: Megan Jeyifo, executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, called the Iowa ruling “another devastating blow for the Midwest,” and stressed that “the impact of the ban will be felt immediately” across the region.

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