National News

Iowa Bishops Praise State Supreme Court’s Decision Lifting Injunction on Abortion Ban

The Iowa Capitol is seen in Des Moines Feb. 3, 2020. A ruling by The Iowa State Supreme Court June 28, 2024, lifted the state’s injunction against a state law that prohibited abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. (Photo: OSV/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — Iowa’s three Catholic bishops praised the state Supreme Court’s ruling that lifted an injunction on a state’s abortion ban after six weeks of pregnancy.

“We celebrate that the Iowa Supreme Court has recognized there is no right to an abortion to be found in the Iowa Constitution and, in so doing, has lifted an injunction against the law that would prohibit abortions after a heartbeat can be detected,” the bishops said in a statement issued by the Iowa Catholic Conference.

The court’s 4-3 decision, issued June 28, overturned a lower court’s injunction of the state’s fetal heartbeat law which prohibited abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

​​The state’s heartbeat law was passed by state legislators in 2018 and again in 2023 in a special session of the Iowa Legislature to replace the previous law that had been blocked by a lower court ruling.

The law bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and when the medical procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.

It requires doctors to perform an abdominal ultrasound on a patient seeking an abortion and if a fetal heartbeat is detected, the abortion cannot be performed unless one of the exceptions applies.

Prior to this law, abortions had been legal in the state up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The court’s ruling states that the Iowa law is serving a legitimate state interest and it had legal grounds to be upheld.

Justice Matthew McDermott wrote in the majority opinion that the district court “erred in granting the temporary injunction.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a supporter of the measure, praised the court’s decision, saying in a statement: “There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn.”

She added that “Iowa voters have spoken clearly through their elected representatives, both in 2018 when the original heartbeat bill was passed and signed into law, and again in 2023 when it passed by an even larger margin. I’m glad that the Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the will of the people of Iowa.”

The state’s abortion ban has come before the state’s Supreme Court before. In 2023, before the state reissued its fetal heartbeat law, the court upheld a lower court’s injunction on the 2018 law.

In praising the court’s 2024 decision that puts the abortion ban back in effect at about six weeks of pregnancy, the state’s bishops stressed that “human life is precious and should be protected in our laws to the greatest extent possible.”

They also urged Iowans to “work for an end to the practice of abortion and to join us in tireless, unremitting and compassionate solidarity with pregnant women in distress, with the men who fathered these children, and with families in need.”