On Wednesday the ACLU and Planned Parenthood were in a celebratory mood after a hearing regarding Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation that banned most surgical abortions in Iowa.
However, there is more to the story.
Factually, there was an “agreement” reached between the state of Iowa and the plaintiffs. What that agreement means, though, seems to be up for interpretation.
Yesterday we told you about the ACLU saying that women can go back to receiving the healthcare they need. We asked the ACLU if there was some sort of legal definition for “essential” abortions. They said there was not.
However, in the proclamation issued by Gov. Reynolds, this paragraph appears:
That seems to be a definition of “essential.” It at least certainly providers guidance.
And, to be clear, the proclamation issued by Gov. Reynolds remains completely intact. The judge did not strike any part of the proclamation.
The order actually says it appears that Planned Parenthood, the Emma Goldman Clinic and the ACLU of Iowa misunderstood what the proclamation says.
“It appears (the state’s) interpretation of the proclamation is more nuanced than was understood by petitioners,” it says. “In that filing, (the state) indicates that the proclamation only suspends ‘nonessential’ surgical abortions, those that cannot be delayed without undue risk to the health of the patient.”
The state does acknowledge that the timing of a pregnancy could be used to determine whether a surgical abortion can be delayed.
“Upon reviewing the affidavits submitted by (Planned Parenthood, the Emma Goldman Clinic, the ACLU of Iowa) it appears they were under the impression that the proclamation restricted almost all surgical abortions. It also appears that, in initially planning to comply with the proclamation, both Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Emma Goldman Clinic were already intending to determine what procedures, including surgical abortions, could be delayed without undue risk to the health of their patients,” the order says.
“Considering the above, a temporary injunction is not necessary.”
The motion for a temporary injunction was withdrawn by the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic.
The Iowa Standard reached out to the Attorney General’s office for comment. Lynn Hicks, the communications director, said the judge accepted the state’s interpretation of the proclamation.
“I don’t see how this can be characterized as a loss for the state and the defendants,” he said. “As we said, and the judge agreed, ‘the proclamation does not suspend surgical abortions that cannot be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of the patient.’ The state also argued ‘that it is appropriate to consider whether the gestational age of the unborn child prevents the mother from obtaining a legal abortion after April 16, 2020.'”
Hicks said the Attorney General’s office is “pleased” with the resolution.
Enforcement of this portion of the proclamation is with the Board of Medicine. Kent Nebel, the executive director of the Board of Medicine, said what enforcement looks like is unknown.
“We are still awaiting further guidance from the Attorney General’s office and the Governor’s office regarding what enforcement looks like,” he said. “We’ve got a draft document, but it hasn’t been finalized, so I’m not certain what it’s going to look like yet.”
The same applies to what is or isn’t an “essential” surgery or procedure.
“The Board is trying to schedule an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss that exact topic of what is an essential surgery or procedure,” Nebel said. “Until I get some guidance from the Board, it’s so new to them, I’m not sure I know yet.”