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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

(LifeSiteNews) — The Iowa Supreme Court deadlocked 3-3 Friday on whether to allow Iowa’s duly-enacted heartbeat abortion ban to take effect, resulting in the ban remaining blocked despite the U.S. Supreme Court now allowing states to set their own abortion laws.

KCRG reports that the ruling, concerning a 2018 law that bans abortions starting around six weeks except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life (while allowing abortion prior to six weeks), was tied due to the recusal of Justice Dana Oxley, whose former law firm had represented one of the abortion facilities in the case.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds had asked the state’s highest court to lift a previous injunction on the law that was predicated on the longstanding Roe v. Wade precedent, which the nation’s highest court finally overturned last year.

Three justices agreed, with Justice Christopher McDonald citing the “well settled” concept that “[w]hen a case adjudging a statute unconstitutional is overruled, the statute becomes operative without reenactment”; another three did not, with Justice Thomas Waterman claiming that it would “bypass the legislature” to let an act of the legislature take effect. Without a seventh judge to break the tie, the status quo remains in place.

“To say that today’s lack of action by the Iowa Supreme Court is a disappointment is an understatement,” Reynolds responded. “But the fight is not over. There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn. We are reviewing our options in preparation for continuing the fight.”

“I’m extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court’s opinion today,” added Republican state House Speaker Pat Grassley. “We feel strongly that the Heartbeat Bill is a good piece of legislation that would save the innocent lives of unborn children. Going forward we will work together to pass legislation that will protect life, support new mothers, and promote strong families in Iowa.”

The outcome, which effectively acts as if Roe is still in effect for the Hawkeye State, is particularly curious given the Iowa Supreme Court’s affirmation last year that the Iowa Constitution does not contain a state “right” to abortion.

Fourteen states currently ban all or most abortions, in response to which abortion allies are aggressively pursuing a variety of strategies to preserve abortion “access,” such as easing distribution of abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, constructing new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, and making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors. 

President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws.