Steven Holt

Fifty-five members of the expanded Republican majority in the Iowa House have advanced a proposed amendment to the state constitution on abortion.

If eventually approved by voters, the Iowa Constitution would be amended to say it does not recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion.

Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, said it’s needed to respond to court rulings that struck down abortion restrictions.

“I am pro-life and I make no apology for it,” Holt said. “I believe there are two heartbeats involved, two souls involved in abortion, and we always forget one of them.”

Democrats like Representative Christina Bohannan of Iowa City said the amendment could lead to an abortion ban in Iowa if the U.S. Supreme Court’s new conservative majority sends the issue back to the states.

“Eliminating the constitutional right to abortion won’t stop abortions,” Bohannan said. “But it will dramatically affect the lives and health of people who happen to have had the bad luck to be born female.”

Representative Holt described the proposal as “abortion neutral.”

“If House Joint Resolution 5 passes two General Assemblies and is approved by the people, abortion will continue to be legal in Iowa based on federal law,” he said.

Representative Molly Donahue, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, called that misleading.

“Putting the word abortion in the Constitution does not make it abortion neutral,” Donahue said. “If the goal isn’t to ban abortion, then what is the goal of this bill?”

All the Democrats in the House along with Republicans Jane Bloomingdale of Northwood, Lee Hein of Monticello and David Maxwell of Gibson voted against the proposed amendment.

Republican leaders in the Iowa Senate plan to endorse the amendment this year, as they did in 2020.