September 28, 2023

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs a six-week abortion ban at conservative summit

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a six-week abortion ban Friday, sparking a new legal battle over the future of reproductive rights in the important early presidential state, and the presence of a division in the campaign.

Surrounded by a cadre of Republican state legislators and anti-abortion leaders, Reynolds signed the measure into law during a special onstage presentation at the Family Leadership Summit — a prominent political gathering hosted by an evangelical Christian group.

“All life is precious and deserves the protection of our laws,” Reynolds said at the signing ceremony, adding that the law represents “an ironclad commitment to the smallest and most vulnerable among us.”

The law took effect the moment Reynolds signed the bill into law, but it may be short-lived.

Across town, in a Polk County district court, the state judge hearing an appeal filed by a group of reproductive rights groups seeking a temporary injunction said he would need until next week to rule. doing.

“This request requires my strong and sustained attention,” Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin said at the hearing. A verdict is possible as early as Monday.

If the request for an emergency injunction is granted, the six-week suspension will be blocked while the legal challenge plays out in the court system.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Emma Goldman Clinic, a women’s health center in Iowa City, filed the legal challenge in a state court Wednesday afternoon, arguing that the new ban violates the state constitution from Iowa. Officials from the groups said they expect the case to reach the state Supreme Court.

Despite the legal challenge, Reynolds, as well as a parade of Republican presidential candidates, celebrated the signing and predicted that the new law would prevail.

“Our work is not done yet,” Reynolds said. “As we gather here today, at this very moment, the abortion industry is in court to prevent this law from coming into effect and again to stop the will of the people.”

The measure includes exceptions for maternal life, miscarriages and fetal abnormalities deemed “incompatible with life” by a doctor.

The bill also includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. These exceptions only apply if the rape was reported within 45 days to the police or a “public or private health agency” – which includes a general practitioner – and the incest must have been reported to one of those officials or entities within 140 days.

Reproductive rights advocates have said a six-week ban amounts to a total ban because many women don’t even know they are pregnant this early.

Reproductive rights groups had said that if the law went into effect immediately, it would scramble abortion clinics and patients across the state. Planned Parenthood officials said clinics across the state remained open until 10 p.m. Thursday to provide care in anticipation of Friday’s signing.

Previously, abortion care was legal in Iowa up to the 20th week of pregnancy.

Reynold’s choice of location for her signing reaffirms the role the divisive issue of abortion rights will play in presidential politics – both in the key state for early voting and across the US.

Attending Friday’s summit — moderated by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson — were Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, many of whom at various points during the conference praised Reynolds and her bill.

“Gov. Kim Reynolds knocked it out of the park,” Haley said after the signing.

“We’re standing here on a historic day in Iowa,” Pence said during a morning pre-signing session. He praised Reynolds for her plan to “legislate historic protections for the unborn”.

Former President Donald Trump — who was more reluctant to embrace strict abortion bans during the campaign than some of his rivals — skipped the event.

While support for tougher abortion restrictions remains popular among conservative evangelical Christians — a major voting bloc in Iowa’s Republican primary — polls in the state, as well as nationally, show that a majority of voters support abortion rights.

And while voting for a six-week suspension might help a candidate in Iowa, things are playing out differently in New Hampshire, the next game in the 2024 primary.

The state’s libertarian-leaning GOP electorate has generally been more open on the issue; Gov. Chris Sununu, for example, is among a small list of GOP governors who support abortion rights.

Those rocky paths forward underscore the struggles Republicans, more broadly, have endured in talking to voters about abortion rights in the year since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling overturned Roe v. Wade. Part of the Democrats’ success in the midterms was due to their ability to successfully use the abortion issue to go after the Republicans.

Reynolds convened a special legislative session devoted solely to passing “pro-life legislation” after the state Supreme Court this month issued a split decision permanently blocking a six-week abortion ban legislators enacted in 2018 .

It took Iowa Republicans, who control the legislature, just 15 hours on Tuesday to pass the new six-week ban.

While the new law already faces the same kind of legal challenges as the 2018 law, the outcome could be different this time if a full-fledged Supreme Court makes a decision.

The split court ruling last month on that 2018 law was a narrowly tailored decision based largely on procedural grounds, meaning it remains possible — if not likely — that a fully seven-member court could find legal consensus on a new ban. One of the court’s seven judges, Dana Oxley — a Reynolds appointee — stepped down because her former law firm represented an abortion clinic that was a plaintiff in the original case.

This article was originally published on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *