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Iowa top court rejects right to abortion, revives waiting period law

The 5-2 ruling by the Supreme Court of Iowa overturned a lower court one blocking the law, which had been challenged by a Planned Parenthood affiliate. It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected in coming weeks to issue a major ruling that could dramatically curtail abortion rights at the national level.

Protest near the Supreme Court over abortion rights in Washington
Anti-abortion campaigners demonstrate Wednesday outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington.
Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters
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Iowa's highest court on Friday ruled that the state's constitution does not include a "fundamental right" to abortion, reversing its own finding from four years ago and reviving a law requiring women to wait 24 hours after an initial appointment before getting an abortion.

The 5-2 ruling by the Supreme Court of Iowa overturned a lower court one blocking the law, which had been challenged by a Planned Parenthood affiliate. It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected in coming weeks to issue a major ruling that could dramatically curtail abortion rights at the national level.

Planned Parenthood and the office of Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller, which defended the law, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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

Justice Edward Mansfield, writing for the majority on Friday, said the 2018 decision had been "flawed" and "one-sided" because "having an abortion without delay is deemed more important than preserving unborn life."

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Chief Justice Susan Christensen in a dissent said the court was too quick to overturn its earlier ruling. She noted that four of the seven current justices - including herself - had been appointed since 2018 by Reynolds.

"The legitimacy of judicial review hinges in part on the public perception that we are applying the rule of law regardless of our personal preferences instead of merely engaging in judicial policymaking," she wrote.

If the U.S. Supreme Court rolls back abortion rights, state-level legal battles over the issue are likely to become more frequent, as Republican-led states move quickly to pass new abortion restrictions.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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