A proposed amendment to Iowa’s Constitution on the subject of abortion isn’t eligible for the Iowa ballot until the 2024 election at the earliest, but the campaigns for and against it have already begun.
In 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that under the state’s constitution, Iowa women have a fundamental right to an abortion. Last month, at a gathering of 1,200 Christian conservatives, Chuck Hurley of The Family Leader praised Republicans legislators for proposing an amendment to nullify that ruling and forbid state money from being used for abortions, but Hurley warned the process of amending the state constitution is arduous.
“That process is more fully explained on this little card that each of you got in your bag,” Hurley said.
A picture of the card popped up on the huge screens at the front of the convention hall in Des Moines.
“Please, please, study this card and then go to the website that is on the card,” Hurley said. “…It has resources like (church) bulletin inserts, more of these cards, and then a video.”
The Family Leader, Iowa Right to Life, and other organizations have formed a coalition to lobby legislators to advance the proposed amendment again in 2023 or 2024 so it can be put to a statewide vote.
“We can turn the tide and win and defeat Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby and protect unborn children in Iowa,” Hurley said.
Jamie Burch Elliott is Iowa director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood North Central States. “We are also building our own coalition of organizations across the state that will show the depth and breadth of Iowans that are against this proposed amendment,” Burch Elliott said.
Burch Elliott points to the increasing number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in Iowa after GOP lawmakers moved to shut Planned Parenthood out of the government program that provides birth control to poor women. She expects that to be one of many factors in the upcoming debate.
“But what we’re working on now is a statewide strategy to educate and inform Iowa voters,” she said, “and then mobilize them to take action.”
A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll taken this spring found about a third of those surveyed support the proposed amendment, but the poll also shows the amendment is favored by 55% of Republicans and opposed by 82% of Democrats.
“It’s important to keep that in mind,” she said. “It also means that it’s going to be a long, tough, and expensive fight.”
In 2020, Louisiana voters passed an amendment that’s similar to the one being proposed in Iowa, stating that if Roe v Wade is overturned, their state’s constitution does not secure the right to an abortion. Also last year, Colorado voters rejected an amendment to ban abortions after the 22nd week of a pregnancy