Hours after the Supreme Court gave abortion advocates and providers a victory (for now) with a 5-4 decision striking down Louisiana’s draconian admitting privileges law, Iowa’s Republican Governor Kim Reynolds decided to give a big ole middle finger to abortion access, by signing a bill mandating a 24-hour waiting period for abortions in the state.
She signed the bill even as a similar law requiring a 72-hour waiting period was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court in 2018, and in the midst of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland challenging that this latest restriction is also unconstitutional.
More, via NBC News:
Reynolds signed the measure into law just after lawyers representing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the state wrapped up arguments before a state court judge. The court must now decide whether to halt immediately enforcement of the new law, which is set to take effect Wednesday.
Planned Parenthood claims in a lawsuit filed last week that the bill is unconstitutional in the way it was passed in the middle of the night without public debate. The group argues that the bill also violates the due process and equal protection rights of women seeking an abortion, much like a 72-hour waiting period law the Iowa Supreme Court struck down in 2018.
As Planned Parenthood attorney Alice Clapman told NBC News, “The situation feels like Groundhog Day because we were here only three years ago seeking the same emergency relief and litigating a mandatory delay law that was indistinguishable from this one.”
But that sense of endless battle is precisely the point of anti-abortion activists and elected officials, whose strategy—throwing everything at the wall to chip away at the right to an abortion bit by bit until the protections of Roe are more of an aspiration rather than fact—has been remarkably effective at gutting abortion access in Republican-dominated states.
And it’s part of a calculated strategy to plant the seeds for legal battles that potentially could make their way up to the Supreme Court, further eroding access. According to the New York Times, there are at least 16 abortion cases pending in federal appeals courts, including ones that “could present a more direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.”
We should celebrate the SCOTUS victory, but recognize that in the battle to protect and expand abortion access, not only did Chief Justice John Roberts leave the door wide open to future challenges, but that the battleground, as always, is in Republican-led states like Iowa, eager every year to pass legislation whose cumulative goal is to make an abortion increasingly harder to obtain.