Polk County District Court will hear arguments to throw out injunction blocking 2018 fetal heartbeat bill

Iowa Democrats urge citizens to realize to vote for pro-choice candidates as Gov. Kim Reynolds’ court actions move forward.


Gabby Drees

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, responds to questions posed by reporters at a press conference at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

Liam Halawith , Politics Reporter

Polk County District Court is scheduled to hear a motion on Friday at 1:30 p.m. to dissolve the injunction that permanently blocked the 2018 fetal heartbeat bill. The bill banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy except in the case rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is at risk.

The law was blocked by a 2019 injunction from the Polk County District court. The permanent injunction was granted based on a previous Iowa supreme court ruling that held, “a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution.”

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature have advanced legislation that would add a constitutional amendment banning abortion rights. The measure passed the legislature in 2021, but it would have to pass again in the next session to go to Iowa voters before it is added to the constitution.

RELATED: “Dobbs decision prompts GOP leadership to cut down abortion access in Iowa

The motion to dissolve the injunction comes from the respondents — Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds — to the original case of Planned Parenthood v. Governor Kim Reynolds. The motion was filed after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, where they reversed the decades-old precedent that protected a pregnant person’s right to an abortion known as Roe v. Wade.

During a press conference Thursday morning, Iowa Democratic party leaders stressed the importance of the hearing and voting in the upcoming midterm election on Nov. 8. Reynolds is facing a challenge from Democratic candidate Deidre DeJear.

“[Reynolds has] just simply gone too far. And it’s time for Iowans to send a message with their vote,” Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Ross Wilburn said during the live-streamed press conference.

Wilburn said voting for Democrats will ensure the right to abortion is protected. Currently, Republicans have a trifecta of power in Iowa, holding the governor’s office, as well as the House and Senate.

Democrats are currently in the minority in both statehouses in Iowa and the Republicans control both branches of government.

“We must elect more Democrats like Deidre this year and candidates up and down the ticket to restore our rights and freedoms,” Wilburn said. “Republicans don’t want Iowa’s to know that their plan is to take away their reproductive freedoms, and we cannot let this happen.”

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst joined Wilburn and other Democratic leaders on Thursday to emphasize the importance of action and turnout in the election.

“We can no longer think in abstractions. We can no longer think of hypotheticals,” Konfrst said. “We are talking about the lives of Iowans that the governor and Republicans in the legislature are ignoring or pushing down and are saying don’t matter — we know better — Iowans know better and we have to do better. And that’s why abortion and reproductive freedom is on the ballot this November, in 12 days. It is critically important not because of abstraction, but because of real women’s lives.”

DeJear joined the slate of leaders at the event Thursday. DeJear vowed to lead Iowa with a pro-choice agenda if elected, contrasting her opponent’s policies.

“So, I stand here committed on this issue to protect a woman’s right to choose that is incredibly important,” DeJear said. “As I often say, pregnancy has infinite variables, the idea that we’re going to dictate this process in black and white is not only irresponsible — it’s undemocratic — and we have to nip this type of leadership in the butt. It’s too extreme and It’s not who we are.”

Reynolds emphasized Republicans’ pro-life stance when she submitted the motion in August. Advocating for the court to reverse the injunction allows Republicans to advance their anti-abortion agenda.

“The historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe has given us a new hope and pathway forward to challenge the Iowa court’s previous decision,” Reynolds said in a press release in August. “Life and death are determined by a person’s heartbeat, and I believe that includes our unborn children. As long as I’m Governor, I will stand up for the sanctity of life and fight to protect the precious and innocent unborn lives.”

Democrats are currently in the minority in both statehouses in Iowa and the Republicans control both branches of government.

See The Daily Iowan’s voter guide for more information on voting in Johnson County.

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