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Amid uncertainty around the future of Justice Kennedy’s seat, the Iowa Supreme Court steps in to protect Iowa women from an unconstitutional, mandatory 72-hour waiting period 

Courts are often the last line of defense in preserving abortion access for women

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down an abortion restriction designed to shame and stigmatize patients and block their access to care. The law would have forced women to make two visits to the health center and wait at least 72 hours before an abortion. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa sued over the mandatory waiting period, which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law last year. This ruling comes amid the uncertainty surrounding the Kennedy vacancy, and underscores the importance of the judiciary. In states like Iowa, the courts are the last line of defense for patients who deserve the right to control their bodies at the most basic level.

The law violated the fundamental rights of women seeking an abortion.

In its opinions, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized that “...abortion regulations impact different women in many different ways. Womanhood is not a monolith. There are few hurdles that are of level height for women of different races, classes, and abilities. There are few impositions that cannot be solved by wealth. Women of means are surely better positioned to weather the consequences of waiting-period requirements. Yet, it is axiomatic that a right that is only accessible to the wealthy or privileged is no right at all.

“Autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free. At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one’s own identity, destiny, and place in the world. Nothing could be more fundamental to the notion of liberty. We therefore hold, under the Iowa Constitution, that implicit in the concept of ordered liberty is the ability to decide whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy. ”

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

We are pleased that the Iowa Supreme Court saw this law for what it was — a ploy to make safe, legal abortion less accessible. Women deserve to access the health care they need without medically unnecessary roadblocks that only make it more difficult. This win means one less obstacle for patients who already face systemic barriers to care because of racist and discriminatory policies. This is a critical win for women’s rights and freedom to control their bodies, as the constitutional right to safely and legally access abortion hangs in the balance. Make no mistake, the right to abortion in this country is on the line and we will not back down from this fight.

Statement from Suzanna M. de Baca, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland:

We are elated the Court blocked Gov. Reynolds’ egregious anti-woman agenda of making safe, legal abortion harder to access. No matter what she or her allies in the Legislature throw at us, Planned Parenthood will continue to stand up for Iowa women. We will do all we can to make sure everyone who needs an abortion continues to have access to safe, legal health care – no matter what.

While Iowa politicians are doing everything they can to block access to abortion, support for access to safe, legal abortion has only increased in the past two decades. In fact, support for Roe comes from across party lines. Fifty-three percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 86 percent of Democrats oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. Trump voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade by six points. Yet, Iowa politicians, out of step with what their constituents want, have made it clear — they want to block a woman’s basic right to decide if and when to become a parent. Today’s ruling reaffirms that access to safe, legal abortion is right protected by the Iowa Constitution. A fair and neutral judiciary protects this basic right.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.