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Iowa judge blocks effort to reinstate heartbeat law protecting infants

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Associated Press/Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack

Iowa judge blocks effort to reinstate heartbeat law protecting infants

An Iowa district court on Monday declined Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request to reinstate the state’s law that protects unborn children whose heartbeats can be detected. The statute—which protected babies after about six weeks gestation—was signed into law by Reynolds in 2018. The following year, a district court judge permanently struck down the law as unconstitutional with reference to the state constitution and federal case law. Reynolds challenged the 2019 ruling this summer. On Monday, Judge Celene Gogerty argued that the district court does not have authority to dissolve the injunction. Current state law protects babies after 20 weeks of gestation.

What are the next legal steps? Gov. Reynolds on Monday said she will appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. The state’s highest court on June 17 overturned a 2018 decision that stated Iowa residents had a “fundamental right” to abortion—shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs vs. Jackson ruling protected the unborn. After the Iowa Supreme Court’s June decision, Reynolds filed a motion asking the original district court to lift its injunction against the heartbeat law. Attorneys for the state argue that the state and federal legal standards to which the law was originally held no longer apply. Five of the seven current Iowa Supreme Court members were appointed by Reynolds.

Dig deeper: Read Leah Savas’ report in Vitals on how a community of abortion survivors chose forgiveness.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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