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Iowa Supreme Court lifts injunction on fetal heartbeat law

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(The Center Square) – The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday lifted an injunction that temporarily halted the state’s fetal heartbeat law.

Iowa lawmakers passed the bill, which bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, during a special session last year. Exceptions were made in the law for medical emergencies and pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic, the American Civil Liberties Union and Sarah Traxler sued to stop the law, saying it violated a woman’s right to abortion under the due process clause of the Iowa Constitution. A district court issued a temporary injunction, saying the case would likely succeed on its merits.

A 4-3 majority disagreed with the lower court.

“Our holding today—applying rational basis as the constitutional test—undermines the rationale for the district court’s ruling,” Judge Matthew McDermott wrote in the majority opinion. “Under the rational basis test, Planned Parenthood cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits of its substantive due process challenge.”

Chief Justice Susan Christensen said in the minority opinion that the decision could have implications beyond abortion.

“Empowering the state to direct and occupy the lives of individuals in ways that serve our personal interests also empowers the state to direct and occupy our lives in ways that do not,” Christensen said. “Today’s winners could very well be on the other side of the fence tomorrow. Although this fetal-heartbeat law most directly affects women, the ominous consequences of affirming this level of government intrusion will negatively impact all current and future Iowans in one way or another.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds praised the court’s decision, saying it upheld “the will of the people of Iowa.”

“As the heartbeat bill finally becomes law, we are deeply committed to supporting women in planning for motherhood, and promoting fatherhood and its importance in parenting,” Reynolds said. “We will continue to develop policies that encourage strong families, which includes promoting adoption and protecting in vitro fertilization (IVF). Families are the cornerstone of society, and it’s what will keep the foundation of our state and country strong for generations to come.”

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