Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate have taken a first step toward amending the Iowa Constitution to say it doesn’t protect abortion rights.
The House approved language for the proposed amendment last night and the Senate approved it today. Senate President Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel, called it a necessary response to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling.
“Regrettably, five unelected judges with the stroke a pen fabricated a constitutional to an abortion under Iowa’s Constitution,” Chapman says. “…This amendment will allow the people, not unelected judges and not us, to decide the issue of who’s going to make laws regarding abortion.”
While House and Senate Republicans agreed on the amendment’s wording, the same version must clear the legislature in 2023 or 2024 before it would be presented to Iowa voters. Democrats say it’s wrong to put a woman’s basic right to an abortion on the ballot. Senator Claire Celsi, a Democrat from Des Moines, said if the proposed amendment passes and the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, Republican legislators will be able to ban abortion in Iowa, “to metaphorically insert the narrow views of their party and their religion into the lives and private decisions of Iowans of child-bearing age.”
Christina Bohannon, a Democrat from Iowa City who is a University of Iowa law professor, called the amendment an attempt “to turn back the clock to some imaginary time when there were no abortions, I have read all 200 court cases in the state of Iowa on abortion. There were abortions.”
But Bohannon said before the right to privacy was recognized in Roe v Wade, abortions were done in secret. The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week it would hear arguments over a Mississippi law that bans abortions after the 15th week of a pregnancy.