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The Iowa Supreme Court issued a rare 3-3 ruling on Friday regarding the state’s Heartbeat Bill that was passed in 2018. Justice Dana Oxley, who was appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, recused herself.

The entire Iowa Supreme Court is comprised of Republican-appointed justices — five by Reynolds and two by former Gov. Terry Branstad.

Reynolds requested the court reinstate the 2018 law, which was immediately blocked after it was passed and would protect unborn babies from being aborted once a heartbeat could be detected — with exceptions.

Justices Susan Christensen, Thomas Waterman and Edward Mansfield upheld the district court ruling while Justices Christopher McDonald, Matthew McDermott and David May voted to overturn the previous ruling.

Reynolds said calling the decision a disappointment is an “understatement.”

Not only does it disregard Iowa voters who elected representatives willing to stand up for the rights of unborn children, but it has sided with a single judge in a single county who struck down Iowa’s legislation based on principles that now have been flat-out rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Reynolds said of her Supreme Court. “There is no fundamental right to abortion and any law restricting it should be reviewed on a rational basis standard – a fact acknowledged today by three of the justices.  Still, without an affirmative decision, there is no justice for the unborn. 

“But the fight is not over. There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn. We are reviewing our options in preparation for continuing the fight.” 

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said he disagrees with the decision. House Speaker Pat Grassley said he is “extremely disappointed” in the decision.

Neither legislative chamber did anything to advance the pro-life cause in 2023, the first session following Roe v. Wade being struck down federally.

Planned Parenthood called the ruling an “enormous win.” ACLU of Iowa’s legal director, Rita Bettis Austen, said the law was “dangerous, cruel and unconstitutional.”



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