Latest Reports
Your State
Contact Us



The principal pre-Roe statute prohibited performance of an abortion on a pregnant woman unless the procedure was “necessary to save her life.”1  Pursuant to Roe, this statute was declared unconstitutional by a three-judge federal district court in Doe v. Turner,2 and was repealed in 1976.3  The pre-Roe statute would not be revived by a decision overruling Roe v. Wade.  Abortions could be performed for any reason through the second trimester, and for virtually any reason thereafter.4


1 Iowa Code § 701.1 (1950).

2 361 F.Supp. 1288 (S.D. Iowa 1973).  Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the statute, rejecting arguments that it was impermissibly vague and denied equal protection of the law.  See State v. Abodeely, 179 N.W.2d 347 (Iowa 1970), appeal dismissed, cert. denied, 402 U.S. 936 (1971).

3 1976 Iowa Acts 549, 774, ch. 1245, § 526.

4 See Iowa Code Ann. § 707.7 (West 2003).  Because of its undefined health exception, Iowa’s statute would not effectively prohibit abortions after the second trimester.  In interpreting the undefined health exception in the pre-Roe District of Columbia abortion statute, the Supreme Court held that “the general usage and modern understanding of the word ‘health’ . . . includes psychological as well as physical well-being.”  United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62, 72 (1971).  See also Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 192 (1973) (in determining whether an abortion is medically necessary, “all factors– physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant to the well-being of the patient” may be considered).  There would be few, if any, abortions that could not be justified on psychological or emotional grounds.


© 2005 Life Legal Defense Fund. All rights reserved.
May be reprinted without permission but with attribution to the Life Legal Defense Fund.