Iowa Supreme Court rules telemed abortion ban unconstitutional

Iowa Judicial Branch BuildingBy The Iowa Statesman


In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled the Iowa Board of Medicine’s ban on telemedicine abortions is unconstitutional, reversing a district court decision in a lawsuit filed in 2013 by Planned Parenthood of Iowa.

The opinion, written by Justice David Wiggins — who survived a retention vote in 2012 following his role in the ruling that opened the door to gay marriage in Iowa — was adopted by five other Justices. Justice Bruce Zager took no part in the ruling. In the opinion, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the Iowa Board of Medicine rule violated the U.S. Constitution’s “undue burden test,” noting that the state’s position was that abortion is right protected by the Iowa Constitution — although the Iowa Supreme Court has never taken that position — coextensive to the U.S. Constitution right determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.

Telemedicine“We have yet to determine if the Iowa Constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. Over forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized a woman has a constitutionally protected liberty interest in the decision to terminate a pregnancy … The Supreme Court reaffirmed the ‘constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy’ in 1992,” the opinion stated. “Many states considering this issue under their state constitutions have found their state constitutions provide such a right … However, in this case, we need not decide whether the Iowa Constitution provides such a right, and if so, whether regulations affecting that right must pass strict scrutiny. The [Iowa Board of Medicine] in its brief and in its oral argument conceded a woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy protected by the Iowa Constitution that is coextensive with the federal right. For the reasons discussed here in, we find the challenged rule fails to meet the federal undue burden test for constitutionality.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire ruling.