60 Lawmakers Ask Iowa Supreme Court To Overturn Ruling Calling Abortion 'Fundamental Right'

A group of 60 Republican Iowa state lawmakers have asked the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse a 2018 ruling that found abortion is a "fundamental right" under the state's constitution.

Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman, Senate President Pro Tempore Brad Zaun, House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl and Senate President Pro Tempore Brad Zaun all signed off on the amicus, or "friend of the court," brief. The brief, prepared by lawyers from the conservative groups Alliance Defending Freedom and The Family Leader, was filed on Wednesday.

The 2018 ruling has been an effective roadblock to Republican in Iowa who want to ban or restrict abortions. A bill that would have required a 24-hour waiting period for abortions was signed into law GOP Governor Kim Reynolds in June but quickly struck down after a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood, with the judge citing the previous ruling.

Iowa Supreme Court Republicans Abortion Right Brief
A group of 60 Republican lawmakers in Iowa have asked the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse a decision that found abortion is a "fundamental right." This undated file photo shows a statue of Lady Justice holding scales and a sword against a blue sky background. BrianAJackson/Getty

The Republicans who signed Wednesday's brief and anti-abortion activists hope that the court, which has since grown more conservative due to several judges being appointed by Reynolds, will choose to remove the roadblock by striking down the earlier ruling. The groups that prepared the brief both objected to the assertion that abortion is a right on Tuesday.

"The court unilaterally declared abortion 'a fundamental right' under the Iowa Constitution, undermining the state's immense interest in protecting children and mothers," Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Elissa Graves said in a statement. "Nothing in the Iowa Constitution's text, structure, history, or tradition suggests that abortion is a fundamental right; therefore, the court must act upon its duty to overturn 'clearly erroneous' precedent."

"Our aim is to see mothers and babies protected from the horror of abortion," The Family Leader Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel Chuck Hurley said. "But as long as this unconstitutional, disastrous Planned Parenthood ruling stands, our courts will continue to strike down every reasonable effort to regulate abortion in our state."

In a statement to Newsweek, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa Public Affairs Director Jamie Burch Elliott said that the Iowa was "facing the very grim reality that safe and legal abortion could be banned in just a few short years," adding that the brief made it clear that there was an "intention to do just that."

"They are unabashedly playing politics with people's health care and lives; they want to upend the Court's decision from just three years ago that confirmed abortion as a protected fundamental right under the state constitution," Burch Elliott said. "These same extreme politicians have taken away access to contraception in our state and are working to amend our constitution to take away the right to abortion in Iowa."

"Iowa needs leaders who will support reproductive freedom and access to health care, not politicians who want to force Iowans into pregnancy," added Burch Elliott. "Abortion is still safe and legal in Iowa, but we are headed down an extremely dangerous path that will have lasting impact on generations to come."

Republicans have been aggressively pursuing anti-abortion laws across the nation in recent years. Anti-abortion activists are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court, now with a 6-3 conservative majority, will soon overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed access to abortion without government interference.

The nation's highest court failed to issue an emergency intervention to stop a controversial new Texas law from going into effect on Wednesday. The law bans most abortions in Texas since it prohibits doctors from performing the procedure if they can detect a fetal heartbeat.

Heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, when some women are not even aware they are pregnant. Up to 90 percent of Texas abortions are performed at least six weeks into pregnancy, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Update 9/3, 11:48 p.m.: This article has been updated to include a statement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa Public Affairs Director Jamie Burch Elliott.