Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds ex rel. State

Citation915 N.W.2d 206
Decision Date29 June 2018
Docket NumberNo. 17-1579,17-1579
Parties PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF THE HEARTLAND and Jill Meadows, Appellants, v. Kimberly K. REYNOLDS EX REL. STATE of Iowa and Iowa Board of Medicine, Appellees.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

Alice Clapman of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Washington, D.C., and Rita Bettis of American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa Foundation, Des Moines, for appellants.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Thompson, Solicitor General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees.

Roxanne Conlin of Roxanne Conlin & Associates, P.C., Des Moines, for amicus curiae Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, et al.

Heather Shumaker of National Abortion Federation, Washington, D.C., and Sally Frank, Des Moines, for amicus curiae National Abortion Federation.

Melissa C. Hasso of Sherinian & Hasso Law Firm, Des Moines, and Angela C. Vigil of Baker & McKenzie LLP, Miami, Florida, for amicus curiae Biomedical Ethicists.

Bob Rush of Rush & Nicholson, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, and B. Jessie Hill of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, for amicus curiae Iowa Professors of Law and of Women's Studies.

Kimberly A. Parker and Lesley Fredin of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C.; Paloma Naderi of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Boston, Massachusetts; and Paige Fiedler of Fiedler & Timmer, Johnston, for amicus curiae American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Frank B. Harty of Nyemaster Goode, P.C., Des Moines, and Paul Benjamin Linton, Northbrook, Illinois, for amicus curiae Iowa Catholic Conference.

CADY, Chief Justice.

In this appeal, we must decide if the constitutional right of women to choose to terminate a pregnancy is unreasonably restricted by a statute that prohibits the exercise of the right for a period of seventy-two hours after going to a doctor. In making this decision, we recognize the continuing debate in society over abortion and acknowledge the right of government to reasonably regulate the constitutional right of women to terminate a pregnancy. In carefully considering the case, we conclude the statute enacted by our legislature, while intended as a reasonable regulation, violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa Constitution because its restrictions on women are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest of the State. The State has a legitimate interest in informing women about abortion, but the means used under the statute enacted does not meaningfully serve that objective. Because our constitution requires more, we reverse the decision of the district court.

I. The Judiciary.

We begin by reflecting on the role of the judiciary within our venerable system of government. The Iowa Constitution, like its federal counterpart, establishes three separate, yet equal, branches of government. Iowa Const. art. III, § 1. Our constitution tasks the legislature with making laws, the executive with enforcing the laws, and the judiciary with construing and applying the laws to cases brought before the courts.

Our framers believed "the judiciary is the guardian of the lives and property of every person in the State." 1 The Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Iowa 229 (W. Blair Lord rep., 1857) [hereinafter The Debates ], Every citizen of Iowa depends upon the courts "for the maintenance of [her] dearest and most precious rights." Id. The framers believed those who undervalue the role of the judiciary "lose sight of a still greater blessing, when [the legislature] den[ies] to the humblest individual the protection which the judiciary may throw as a shield around [her]." Id.

Unlike the United States Constitution, the Iowa Constitution begins with the Bill of Rights. Our framers were mindful that the

annals of the world ... furnish many instances in which the freest and most enlightened governments that have ever existed upon earth, have been gradually undermined, and actually destroyed, in consequence of the people's rights not being guarded by written constitutions.

Id. at 100–01. Accordingly, "[t]he object of a Bill of Rights is to set forth and define powers which the people seek to retain within themselves." Id. at 154. Some perceived Iowa's Bill of Rights to be "of more importance than all the other clauses in the Constitution put together, because it is the foundation and written security upon which the people rest their rights." Id. at 103; cf. Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics , 403 U.S. 388, 407, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 2010, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971) (Harlan, J., concurring) ("[I]t must also be recognized that the Bill of Rights is particularly intended to vindicate the interests of the individual in the face of the popular will as expressed in legislative majorities ....").

No law that is contrary to the constitution may stand. Iowa Const. art. XII, § 1. "[C]ourts must, under all circumstances, protect the supremacy of the constitution as a means of protecting our republican form of government and our freedoms." Varnum v. Brien , 763 N.W.2d 862, 875 (Iowa 2009). Our framers vested this court with the ultimate authority, and obligation, to ensure no law passed by the legislature impermissibly invades an interest protected by the constitution.

Constitutional guarantees, such as the rights to due process and equal protection of the law, limit the power of the majoritarian branches of government. The purpose of such limitation is to "withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts." Id. (quoting W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette , 319 U.S. 624, 638, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 1185, 87 L.Ed. 1628 (1943) ). One delegate during our state's constitutional convention emphasized the importance of vesting the authority to interpret our most sacred individual rights in the hands of an entity

in regard to which we can say, there is no political taint or bias, there is no parti[s]an complexion to it; it is of such a character that when we go before it to have our dearest rights decided, we may rest assured that they will be decided upon principles of law and equity, and not upon political or party principles.

1 The Debates , at 453.

Here, we are called upon by Iowans to review an act of the legislature they believe infringes upon the Iowa Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection. The obligation to resolve this grievance and interpret the constitution lies with this court. "In carrying out this fundamental and vital role, 'we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.' It speaks with principle, as we, in turn, must also." Varnum , 763 N.W.2d at 876 (quoting McCulloch v. Maryland , 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 407, 4 L.Ed. 579 (1819) ).

II. Procedural Background.

On April 18, 2017, the Iowa legislature passed Senate File 471. Division I of Senate File 471 creates new prerequisites for physicians performing an abortion, including a mandatory 72-hour waiting period between informational and procedure appointments. See 2017 Iowa Acts ch. 108, § 1 (codified at Iowa Code ch. 146A (2018)). Division II prohibits performing an abortion upon the twentieth week of pregnancy. Id. § 2 (codified at Iowa Code ch. 146B (2018)).

On May 3, anticipating Governor Branstad would sign the bill into law, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) moved for a temporary injunction to prevent Division I (the Act) from going into effect. PPH alleged the Act violated the rights to due process and equal protection of the law under the Iowa Constitution. The district court denied the injunction, and PPH sought a stay from this court. On May 5, Governor Branstad signed the law into effect. A few hours later, we stayed the enforcement of the Act per a single-justice order. On May 9, we granted PPH's interlocutory appeal and stayed enforcement of the Act pending a trial on the merits.

The district court subsequently held a two-day trial. At trial, PPH produced five witnesses and an affidavit of a domestic violence expert. The State did not call any witnesses but, instead, offered two sworn statements. Mark Bowden, Executive Director of the Iowa Board of Medicine, indicated the Board would promulgate rules to implement the Act. Melissa Bird, Bureau Chief of Health Statistics at the Iowa Department of Public Health, presented vital statistics on where abortion patients resided in 2014 and 2015. The district court held the Act did not violate the Iowa Constitution.

PPH appealed. We retained the case and stayed enforcement of the Act pending resolution of the appeal. On our review, we will first consider the entire factual record, as developed at the trial court, to determine how the Act will impact the ability of women to obtain an abortion in Iowa. Following that determination, we will consider whether the Act runs afoul of the due process clause and right to equal protection under the Iowa Constitution.

III. Abortion Decision-Making and Access Prior to and Under the Act.

In this section, we recount the facts underlying this case, as presented through witness testimony and exhibits offered at trial. The background and facts of this proceeding are extensive but need to be comprehensively explained and considered for the ultimate decision reached to be fully understood. The evidence and facts are an important part of justice, as is a fair and impartial understanding of the facts.

A. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Abortion Generally. PPH is a healthcare provider in Iowa that offers reproductive healthcare services. It provides well-woman exams, contraception counseling and care, sexually transmitted infection (STI) evaluations and treatments, preventative care such as cervical cancer screenings

and mammogram referrals, and abortion care. PPH...

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6 cases
  • Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc. v. Reynolds
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • June 30, 2021 the same solicitude it receives in other contexts. Id. (quoting Casey , 505 U.S. at 884, 112 S. Ct. at 2824 ). In Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds , we stated a woman's fundamental due process rights to obtain an abortion under the Iowa Constitution are similarly premised ......
  • State v. Wright
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • June 18, 2021
    ...constitution as illuminated by the lamp of precedent, history, custom, and practice. See Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds , 915 N.W.2d 206, 247 (Iowa 2018) (Mansfield, J., dissenting) (beginning constitutional analysis with the text and original understanding); State v. Crook......
  • Emw Women's Surgical Ctr. v. Beshear
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    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • April 4, 2019
    ...§ 36-2156 ; Fla. Stat. § 390.0111 ; Ind. Code § 16-34-2-1.1 ; Iowa Code § 146A.1, invalidated by Planned Parenthood of Heartland v. Reynolds ex rel. State , 915 N.W.2d 206, 212 (Iowa 2018) (holding 72-hour waiting period was an undue burden ); Miss. Code § 41-41-34 ; Va. Code § 18.2-76. Ten......
  • Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc. v. Reynolds ex rel. State
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • June 17, 2022
    ...a test that the State had conceded was applicable under the Iowa Constitution. Id. at 262–63 .Three years later, in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds ( PPH II ), we confronted a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for abortion that the legislature had enacted in 2017. 915 N.W.......
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6 books & journal articles
  • Abortion
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law No. XXII-2, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021 view the ultrasound) (this version of the statute has been written in compliance with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds, 915 N.W.2d 206 (Iowa 2018)); KAN. STAT. ANN. § 65-6709 (West 2020); KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 311.727 (West 2020) (mandating that a physician perform an ultr......
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    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 75 No. 5, May 2023
    • May 1, 2023
    ...guarantee, even though they did not violate the federal Equal Protection Clause); Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds, 915 N.W.2d 206, 240-41 (Iowa 2018) (holding that imposing a 72-hour waiting period for abortion triggered strict scrutiny under the state's due process provisio......
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    ...subsidize operations of a facility that offers abortion services. Iowa. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds ex rel. State , 915 N.W.2d 206 (Iowa 2018). Iowa statute requiring that a woman wait a mandatory seventy-two hours to receive an abortion after initial consultation was ch......
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