Last Friday, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 a law mandating a 72-hour waiting period for abortions violated the Constitution. The bill was voted on and signed into law last year by former Governor Terry Branstad. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa sued over the law, placing it on hold while the legal challenge ensued.
In the decision, Chief Justice Mark Cady cited violations of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, writing the law’s “restrictions on women are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest of the State.” This decision comes just weeks after a judge temporarily blocked Iowa’s recently-signed ‘Heartbeat Bill,’ which would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, due to a pending lawsuit from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
The clause in question is part of a more comprehensive state law which bans most abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, a restriction not included in the legal challenge set forth in the lawsuit. One thing pro-lifers can take solace in is knowing the court also noted abortion rights are not absolute, with Chief Justice Cady outlining the difficulty the courts have in regulating and deciding on abortion cases.
“In making this decision, we recognize the continuing debate in society over abortion and acknowledge the right of government to reasonably regulate the constitutional right of women to terminate a pregnancy,” Cady wrote in his decision.
Interestingly enough, the same rationale provided by Chief Justice Cady in striking down the law can also be applied in support of it. Cady addressed the law as a violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, which hold no state shall 1) deprive their citizens of the right to life, liberty, or property without the due process of law and 2) deny any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of said laws.
These tenets seem to coincide with the original law in that abortion ends in the termination of a human life — resulting in the failure of the state to guarantee protection of life to all its citizens. In addition, fetuses are officially recognized by the federal government as legal victims if they are subjected to any number of dozens of crimes as defined per the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Furthermore, since those in the womb are scientifically, verifiably human beings (and therefore people), the very concept of ending that life at the convenience of another definitively violates the very principle of equal protection the Court invoked in its opinion.
While the ruling appears as a blow to the pro-life movement, it could be appealed through the federal appellate courts (the Eighth Circuit in Iowa) or could be sent directly to the Supreme Court through a writ of certiorari. This ruling also comes days after the Supreme Court case of NIFLA V. Becerra, in which the Court struck down a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to discuss the state’s abortion program, delivering a win for the pro-life movement and for freedom of speech.
The pro-life movement continues to surge as millennial conservatives remain determined to overturn the detrimental effects of Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision which has resulted in the senseless slaughter of some 60,000,000 babies since its decision 45 years ago.
Through the sweeping pro-life legislation being enacted across the country and the retirement announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, it appears the day is near when the knockout punch can finally be delivered to one of the most unjust Supreme Court rulings in history.