Iowa Governor Calls Special Session to Consider Abortion Restrictions| National Catholic Register

Under current Iowa law, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is calling lawmakers back to Des Moines on July 11 to hold a single-issue special session in which lawmakers will consider new abortion restrictions after the last effort was halted by the state Supreme Court.

“Iowans have elected representatives willing to stand up for the rights of the unborn and, in doing so, they have voted strongly in support of pro-life principles and against the arbitrary destruction of innocent, defenseless lives,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Lawmakers passed a six-week abortion ban in 2018, which would have prohibited abortion once a fetal heartbeat could be detected. A lower court blocked the enforcement of the law, which was incompatible with U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in Roe v. Wade at the time. 

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, which returned abortion regulations back to the states. Even though the precedent has changed since the lower court ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court still refused to hear the state’s appeal, partly because more than four years had already passed since the legislation was originally signed. 

In a rare 3-3 Iowa Supreme Court decision last month, the judges failed to get the majority required to hear the state’s appeal. One judge recused herself because she had previously worked for a law firm that represented an abortion provider listed in the original lawsuit.

The justices explained their votes in writing, but because it was deadlocked 3-3, there was no formal opinion of the court and the statements did not set legal precedent on abortion. All seven justices were appointed by Republicans, but it’s unclear how the court would rule if a similar law was brought to them under different circumstances.

Reynolds said the “lack of action” by the state’s highest court disregards the will of the voters and state lawmakers. 

“I believe the pro-life movement is the most important human rights cause of our time,” Reynolds said. “Not only will I continue to fight against the inhumanity of abortion, but I will also remain committed to supporting women in planning for motherhood, promoting fatherhood and parenting, and continuing policies that encourage strong families. These are the most essential building blocks of our society, and they are what will keep the foundation of our state and country strong for generations to come.”

Democrats were critical of the governor’s decision to call a special session. 

“Republican extremists, led by Gov. Kim Reynolds, are rushing to take away Iowans’ established rights and personal freedoms,” Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said in a statement. 

“And they hope they can do it fast enough that Iowans won’t even notice,” Jochum continued. “Now is the time for Iowans to fight back against an extreme abortion ban that will cost women their lives as well as their freedom. Iowans see how abortion bans have caused heartbreak, complications, and death in other states. We won’t stand for it here.”

Under current Iowa law, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The governor did not say what specific restrictions will be considered during the special session.

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