A conservative leader wants to oust Iowa justices over their abortion ruling

The Iowa Judicial Branch Building is shown, Friday, June 16, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. Abortion will remain legal in Iowa after the state's high court declined Friday to reinstate a law that would have largely banned the procedure, rebuffing Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and, for now, keeping the conservative state from joining others with strict abortion limits. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An anti-abortion leader is calling for the resignation or removal of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted against reinstating the state’s strict ban on most abortions.

Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of conservative Christian group The Family Leader, slammed Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman and Chief Justice Susan Christensen, The Des Moines Register reported.

Those three justices refused to take up Republican Gov. Kim Reynold’s call to reinstate a law banning abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant. The law contains exceptions for medical emergencies, rape, incest and fetal abnormality.

Friday’s rare 3-3 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a 2019 district court ruling blocking the law. Currently, abortions are allowed in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“These three dissenters have shown blatant disrespect for the Constitution, the people’s representatives and we the people,” Vander Plaats tweeted Saturday. “They should resign, be impeached or be ousted.”

Vander Plaats helped oust three other Iowa Supreme Court justices in the wake of a 2009 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, the newspaper reported. Voters kicked those justices off the court during a routine retention vote in 2010.

Mansfield, Waterman and Christensen are not up for a public retention vote until 2028. Vander Plaats told the newspaper he would support an effort by lawmakers to impeach the justices.

“We’ll definitely point out this case, about how they handled this,” Vander Plaats said of the 2028 retention election. “That doesn’t mean we’re running a campaign against them.”