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Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Branstad

The ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and an independent abortion provider challenging the provision of SF 471 which requires a pregnant patient to provide written certification that at least 72 hours before obtaining an abortion, they have undergone an ultrasound and been given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image and hear a description of it, as well as received certain state-mandated materials.

Plaintiffs allege that the waiting period violates pregnant patients’ right to due process. They further allege that the provision violates their and pregnant patients’ right to equal protection under the Iowa Constitution since it singles out abortion for onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions that the Iowa Legislature does not impose upon any other medical procedure. They also allege that the provision discriminates against women on the basis of their sex and gender stereotypes.


On May 5, 2017, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the 72-hour waiting period and written certification requirements. On September 29, Iowa Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Jerry Farrell upheld the law after a two day trial. He held that the law was similar to the law at issue in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and that plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden to show that the law imposed an undue burden on the right to an abortion. The judge also ruled that the law did not violate plaintiffs’ right to equal protection since the law was substantially related to Iowa’s profound interest in potential life over abortion.

On June 29, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the 72-hour waiting period provision. The court ruled (5-2) that the law violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa State Constitution.


** last updated June 29, 2018**