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

Decision Date17 June 2022
Docket Number21-0856
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa



No. 21-0856

Supreme Court of Iowa

June 17, 2022

Submitted February 23, 2022

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Mitchell E. Turner, Judge.

In a case challenging the constitutionality of a law mandating a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion, the defendant state officials appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment to the abortion-provider plaintiffs.


Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Thompson, Solicitor General, Samuel P. Langholz (argued) and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellants.

Rita Bettis Austen (argued) of American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa Foundation, Des Moines, Alice J. Clapman, Camila Vega, and Christine Clarke (until withdrawal) of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Washington, D.C., for appellees.

Alan R. Ostergren, Des Moines, for amici curiae Kirkwood Institute, Inc. and Members of the 89th General Assembly of Iowa.

Christopher P. Schandevel (argued) of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Ashburn, Virginia, Kevin H. Theriot and Elissa Graves of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Chuck Hurley of the Family Leader, Urbandale, for amici curiae 60 Members of the Iowa Legislature.

W. Charles Smithson, West Des Moines, Robert J. Bird, Jr., Dexter, and Jake Heard, Urbandale, for amici curiae Ten Iowa State Senators.


Michael Streit and Colin C. Smith of Sullivan & Ward, P.C., West Des Moines, for amicus curiae League of Women Voters (Iowa Chapter).

Elizabeth A. Battles, Des Moines, and Joshua Opperman, Des Moines, for amici curiae Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Thomas W. Foley of RSH Legal, Cedar Rapids, for amici curiae University of Iowa and Drake University Law Professors.

James C. Larew and Deborah K. Svec-Carstens of Larew Law Office, Iowa City, for amici curiae 33 Iowa State Legislators.

Mansfield, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Waterman and Oxley, JJ., joined, and in which McDonald and McDermott, JJ., joined as to parts II, III, and IV.A-E, and in which Christensen, C.J., joined as to parts II, III, and IV.A-B. McDermott, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which McDonald, J., joined. Christensen, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Appel, J., joined as to parts I-II. Appel, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Kimberly A. Parker, Lesley Fredin McColl, and Nickole Medel of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP, Washington D.C., Alan Schoenfeld of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP, New York, New York, and Paige Fiedler of Fiedler Law Firm, PLC, Johnston, for amici curiae the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, the American Gynecological & Obstetrical Society, the American Medical Association, the Iowa Medical Society, the American Medical Women's Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology,


the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, the Society of Family Planning, the Society of Gynecological Oncology, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists.



I. Introduction.

In this case, we again consider the right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution. The right to an abortion under the Federal Constitution is framed by two landmark cases: Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). Roe first recognized a federal constitutional right to an abortion. 410 U.S. at 153. Casey, in a plurality opinion, held that regulations and restrictions on abortion before viability should be evaluated under an undue burden test. 505 U.S. at 878-79.

In 2015, this court applied the federal Casey undue burden test under the Iowa Constitution. See Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc. v. Iowa Bd. of Med. (PPH I), 865 N.W.2d 252, 269 (Iowa 2015). We found that a statewide ban on telemedicine medication abortions, adopted by the board of medicine when it was otherwise approving the use of telemedicine, violated the Iowa Constitution. Id. Notably, Planned Parenthood had wanted us to recognize a state constitutional right to abortion that was broader than the federal constitutional right. Id. at 262 n.2. We did not reach that issue because we found the telemedicine ban was unconstitutional even under the federal undue burden test, 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.2d 206, 220-21 (Iowa 2018). This time


we rejected the undue burden test. Id. at 240. Instead, we found that the Iowa Constitution-specifically, the due process clause-protected abortion as a fundamental right. Id. at 237-38. We determined that the waiting period could not survive strict scrutiny under that test and struck it down as unconstitutional. Id. at 244.

In 2020, in the waning hours of a legislative session that had been disrupted by COVID-19, the general assembly added a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for abortion to pending legislation limiting courts' ability to withdraw life-sustaining procedures. The 24-hour waiting period involved the same period of time that the United States Supreme Court had upheld in Casey. 505 U.S. at 844. Yet Planned Parenthood sued successfully in district court to block the statute from taking effect. The district court granted summary judgment to Planned Parenthood on two alternative grounds. First, it reasoned that the 2020 legislation violated the single-subject rule of the Iowa Constitution (article III, section 29) and, second, it concluded that our decision in PPH II invalidating a 72-hour waiting period had issue preclusive effect.

The State appeals. It argues that the 2020 legislation did not embrace more than "one subject, and matters properly connected therewith." Iowa Const. art. III, § 29. It also argues that issue preclusion doesn't apply and doesn't bar the State from seeking to overrule PPH II.

Today, we decide only the issues that the parties have presented to us in the current procedural posture of the case. On the single-subject rule, we conclude that a limit on abortion and a limit on withdrawing life-sustaining


procedures both pertain to the subject of "medical procedures," as stated in the bill's title. Therefore, no violation of the single-subject rule took place.

As to issue preclusion, we agree with the State that a 72-hour waiting period and a 24-hour waiting period are not identical. We also agree that issue preclusion does not bar a state's highest court from revisiting its decision on a broad question of constitutional law such as the right to an abortion. And, finally, we hold that any subsidiary fact-findings we made in PPH II occurred within a constitutional framework that placed every burden of persuasion and proof on the State. If we overrule that broad constitutional framework, as the State urges, the findings cannot have preclusive effect. Accordingly, after carefully considering the parties' arguments, we decide that PPH II can and should be overruled.

Although we overrule PPH II, and thus reject the proposition that there is a fundamental right to an abortion in Iowa's Constitution subjecting abortion regulation to strict scrutiny, we do not at this time decide what constitutional standard should replace it. As noted, in PPH I, we applied the undue burden test under our constitution when the State conceded that it applied. An amicus curiae argues that we should hold that the rational basis test applies to abortion regulations. But the State takes no such position; it simply asks that PPH II be overruled and stops there. Moreover, the State did not seek summary judgment below (except as to the single-subject rule); it argued only that Planned Parenthood should not prevail as a matter of law based on issue preclusion.


In addition, we are not blind to the fact that an important abortion case is now pending in the United States Supreme Court. See Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Org., 141 S.Ct. 2619 (2021) (Mem.) (granting certiorari). That case could alter the federal constitutional landscape established by Roe and Casey.[1] While we zealously guard our ability to interpret the Iowa Constitution independently of the Supreme Court's interpretations of the Federal Constitution, the opinion (or opinions) in that case may provide insights that we are currently lacking.

Hence, all we hold today is that the Iowa Constitution is not the source of a fundamental right to an abortion necessitating a strict scrutiny standard of review for regulations affecting that right. For now, this means that the Casey undue burden test we applied in PPH I remains the governing standard. On remand, the parties should marshal and present evidence under that test, although the legal standard may also be litigated further.

Accordingly, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to Planned Parenthood and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.[2]


II. Background Facts and Proceedings.

A. Legislative History of House File 594.

House File 594 (HF 594) was introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives on March 4, 2019. Bill History for House File 594, The Iowa Legislature [hereinafter Bill History HF 594],...

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