The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Polk County Court to block the implementation of a law excluding Planned Parenthood from receiving grants to fund sex education in Iowa.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law earlier this month, which bars organizations which provide access to abortion such as Planned Parenthood from receiving these grants.
Any organization which “provides or promotes abortion” is barred from receiving funding from the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), and the Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP) programs. These grants provide funding for sex education and related services in Iowa.
The lawsuit asks the court to not only block the implementation of this law but also to declare it unconstitutional. The suit claims the law is unconstitutional on the grounds it violates free speech, due process and the Equal Protection Clause.
Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a press conference Wednesday that this law will have a damaging effect on young Iowans.
“To exclude a well-regarded organization that has a historical track record of effectiveness simply because you’re opposed to abortion is highly counterproductive,” Stoesz said. “It is well known that sex education keeps young people healthier, safer and less likely to have an unintended pregnancy, and Planned Parenthood is the long-standing leader in providing these programs for Iowa youth.”
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s election and subsequent appointment of new United States Supreme Court justices to fill vacancies, the Republican-controlled state legislatures have taken action to restrict access to abortion and tie the hands of organizations providing abortions.
Alabama lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy, granting exception only in cases where the pregnancy posed a "serious" risk to the mother's health. A proposed amendment to include additional exceptions for cases of rape and incest was voted down.
Georgia and Ohio have also recently passed laws banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A similar law was passed by Iowa lawmakers in 2018 but was struck down by a district court in April.
The current composition of the Supreme Court has shown a willingness to violate the principle of stare decisis, under which courts usually do not overturn established precedent such as Roe v. Wade.
The Court overturned precedent regarding sovereign immunity of states in the case of Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt.
Justice Stephen Breyer said one can only wonder which cases the court will overturn next.
The court upheld Roe v. Wade in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey with now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy proving the pivotal vote to maintaining rights to abortion access across the United States, in part due to his regard for the principle of stare decisis, Dirk Deam, senior lecturer of political science at Iowa State, said.