(The Center Square) – Polk County District Court denied the State of Iowa’s motion to dismiss the permanent injunction on a 2018 law banning most abortions at around six weeks.
Polk County District Judge Celene Gogerty said the State failed to show that the court has inherent authority to dissolve the January 2019 permanent injunction. The State also didn’t demonstrate substantial change in Iowa law to allow the abortion ban to take effect. In addition, the court said the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide a path for vacating this judgment since, like the federal rules, there is no specific rule that allows for ending permanent injunctions. Iowa rules only outline how temporary injunctions can be terminated, and unlike federal law Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5), Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure doesn’t allow courts to vacate judgments because an earlier ruling is reversed or vacated or allow a specific exception to the one-year rule.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. She said she’s disappointed in the district court’s ruling. However, the case was always going to the Iowa Supreme Court regardless of the outcome, she said.
“As the Iowa and US Supreme Courts have made clear, there is no fundamental right to an abortion,” Reynolds said. “The decision of the people’s representatives to protect life should be honored, and I believe the court will ultimately do so. As long as I’m Governor, I will continue to fight for the sanctity of life and for the unborn.”
Iowa Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, told The Center Square in a texted statement Tuesday that many of the legislators he’s spoken with expected this ruling on the district court level. He said what Gogerty outlined in the ruling reflects the complexities of the legal issues involved.
“I am hopeful, given that the Iowa Supreme Court has recently confirmed that there is no right to abortion in our constitution, coupled with the federal court decision, that the court would determine that the decision on how to regulate abortion in Iowa should be decided by the people through their elected representatives, hence the heartbeat bill that previously passed, should be allowed to go into effect,” Holt also said.
ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen said in a news release that the “dangerous, cruel and unconstitutional” 2018 law would block more than 98% of abortions in Iowa.
“We are grateful and relieved by the decision today, which rejected the state’s unprecedented legal maneuvers to try to ban abortion in our state,” Austen said.
Planned Parenthood Federation of American President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson praised the court’s decision.
“With abortion banned or severely restricted in many states across the region, Iowa remains a critical access point for patients seeking basic health care,” Johnson said. “We welcome this ruling, and we know that the fight is far from over in both the courts and in the legislature next session. Anti-abortion politicians will not stop their attacks on Iowans’ reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. Planned Parenthood remains committed to using every tool at our disposal to defend and protect patients’ fundamental right to abortion.”