The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Iowa Board of Medicine’s ban on telemed, or “webcam,” abortions is nothing short of the reckless pursuit of a political agenda, heedless of the dangers it creates.
Specifically, Iowans should recognize three ominous and lingering ramifications of this decision:
It prioritizes politics over women’s health
The Court’s opinion, which claims women have a constitutional right to an abortion that cannot suffer the “undue burden” of even requiring a doctor be present for the procedure, is dangerous first and foremost to women.
Even though a panel of doctors warned the chemical abortion procedure used in telemed abortions is too risky to undergo without a physician’s supervision and were so concerned about the mother’s life and health that it banned the “webcam” method altogether, the Iowa Supreme Court said having a doctor present was too much of a “burden” on the “right” of abortion.
But if the commonsense requirement of a doctor’s supervision is a step too far for this Court, what possible other restrictions could it logically accept? The judges have opened the floodgates to abortion made so easy, one wonders if quickie abortions at Iowa gas stations will be next.
This decision is so determined to free abortion from any “burden,” it ultimately strips women of the most basic health and safety protections. The Court has essentially brought back the back-alley and coat-hanger abortion and called it a protected “right.”
The decision illustrates the arrogance of judicial activism
The opinion itself cited two federal courts that required legislatures or administrative bodies to have a “rational basis” for restricting abortion and deferring when such basis was present. The Iowa Supreme Court could have followed that precedent and deferred to the Board of Medicine’s judgment on whether a doctor’s presence should be required at an abortion procedure.
Instead, the Iowa Court followed the example of two other federal courts, including the controversial 9th Circuit Court, and took it upon itself to decide what medical procedures are best for women.
“The Iowa Supreme Court said, ‘We’re going to test whether this is wise and balanced and fair,'” noted The FAMiLY LEADER Chief Counsel Chuck Hurley. “That is deeply disturbing. This is a case of judicial activism. The 7th and 9th Circuits had the same arrogance, saying, ‘No, we will decide whether the legislature or the board of medicine made a wise medical decision here.'”
In fact, part of the Iowa opinion highly criticized the medical rationale of the Board of Medicine. In the end, the Iowa Supreme Court, which is made up of seven judges, overruled the Board of Medicine, which has seven doctors.
“Surely doctors on a medical board would know which procedures need a doctor present and which do not, better than the lawyers on the Court would,” Hurley said. “The thing to me that really cries arrogance is that the Court substituted their medical knowledge for that of the doctors on the Board.”
The decision creates a precedent for striking down any incremental check on abortion
Even before Roe v. Wade unleashed widespread abortion on America, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Griswold v. Connecticut decision found a “penumbra” (a nebulous shadow) of a “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution. Later, the Court would justify its Roe v. Wade decision by finding abortion somewhere within that phantom “penumbra.” Later still, the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case bolstered the crumbling Roe ruling by declaring no “undue burden” could be put on a woman’s so-called “right” to an abortion.
That’s the basis for the Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion that requiring a doctor be present for an abortion is somehow unconstitutional, since requiring a woman to drive a hundred miles to receive an abortion would be an “undue burden.”
As far as Hurley is aware, however, this is the first time the Iowa Supreme Court has found a “right” to abortion in the Iowa Constitution.
In fact, the Iowa Supreme Court declared in this case the Iowa Constitution is coextensive with U.S. Constitution. In effect, the Iowa Court indicated its decisions on abortion in the future will be tied to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, unless it decides to expand its reading of the Iowa Constitution even further to allow for no abortion regulations, period.
None of this bodes well for any future attempts to preserve the sanctity of life in Iowa.
As a statement from Personhood Iowa noted, this opinion is the third time in the last month state and federal courts have “struck down” restrictions on abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court, for example, refused to hear an appeal to enforce North Carolina’s ultrasound requirement. Before that, the 9th Circuit Court rejected Idaho’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks of development. Now Iowa’s Supreme Court has declared the Board of Medicine can’t even require a woman to have an in-person examination before an abortion.
“These rulings seem to indicate a trend,” Personhood Iowa stated. “Courts are rejecting even the barest restrictions on abortion, no matter how commonsense, bi-partisan, or incremental, because they refuse to challenge a perceived ‘right’ to abortion. What law then can stand?”
Despite all the progress made in attempting to ensure abortions are “safe, but rare,” activist courts – including Iowa’s – have revealed they’re now willing to strike down any law that gets in the way of rampant abortion. “Safety” and “rarity” are not values these courts respect.
Activist judges are decimating the incremental approach of restricting abortion. In Iowa, they now have a precedent for striking down virtually anything short a human-life amendment, a constitutional provision for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
The Iowa Supreme Court has unanimously declared it won’t allow commonsense restrictions, not even to protect the health and safety of women, to stand in its way of making abortion as easy and commonplace as possible.