A Drake University Law professor says legislation designed to ban all abortions in Iowa would face years of legal challenges if adopted by state lawmakers. The measure, currently awaiting debate by the House Human Resources Committee, is a direct challenge to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe versus Wade ruling.
Professor Ian Bartrum says the South Dakota legislature approved a similar ban a couple of years ago only to have voters rescind the law in order to avoid a lengthy court battle. “We would first have a federal trial court process and that would take a couple of months, then go through the court of appeals which would take a year to year-and-a-half and then if the Supreme court were to take it, it would probably be at least another year and maybe longer than that depending on what the court wanted to do,” Bartrum said.
In addition, Bartrum says it’s unclear if the current Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold an outright ban on abortion. He says while the court is more conservative than it used to be, swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy is still more likely to support a partial ban on abortion than a full prohibition.
The head of a leading conservative group in Iowa says he will support legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy if the even stricter ban fails. Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, says he prefers a ban on all abortions but he understands why some Republicans are willing to accept a partial ban.
“There is a sense of desperation when you can’t pass a law that’s plain as the nose on your face to protect innocent human life,” Hurley said. “Then, do you try to save the lives you can? Probably, yes.” Neither abortion bill has made it out of full committee yet. The Iowa Department of Public Health reports more than 6,000 abortions are performed in Iowa annually.
Around 94% of those are before the 13th week of pregnancy. Hurley and Bartrum made their comments Monday on the Iowa Public Radio program The Exchange.