Restricting Abortion By Constitutional Amendment – Iowa GOP’s Next Plan

Early this year, Iowa’s ban on abortions after a “heartbeat” is detected was struck down.

This brought the state’s second attempt to ban abortion in two years to an end, but Republican lawmakers in the state Senate haven’t given up.

In January this year, 29 Republican senators introduced a resolution that would add a section to the Iowa Constitution that says, “The Constitution of the State of Iowa does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

In March, the bill was reported out of committee.

Jamie Burch Elliot, the public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said the impact this would have on Iowa is simple.

“It will lead Iowa to allow an all-out ban on abortion,” she said. “If not that, then it opens up a six-week ban and a variety of other bans to be introduced and passed into law here in Iowa.”

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In order to actually ban abortion, lawmakers would have to pass another bill through the legislature because the Supreme Court decision still stands until it’s challenged again. Actual implementation would still be complicated by the federal decisions on Roe v. Wade, but conservatives hope to successfully challenge that at some point soon with their conservative majority.

Burch said Planned Parenthood has been mobilizing its supporters since Republicans took control 2016 because this isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to restrict abortion access.

“We’re ready, we’ve been ready, and we are ready to enact a variety of tactics to prevent this at all costs.”

But ultimately, the decision will be up to voters across Iowa.

In Iowa, the process to amend the Constitution takes a long time.

First the amendment must pass through two separate sessions in consecutive general assemblies, which are two-year terms. Then, the amendment has to be ratified by a majority of Iowans voting in an election called by the general assembly.

According to polling done by the Des Moines Register, 52 percent of Iowans believed the fetal “heartbeat” law went too far. The poll also shows that support for legal abortion has increased generally in Iowa.

This year, the bill was also introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives. The House read the proposal and the latest action taken was to refer it to the committee on Judiciary.

Jo Oldson, a Democrat in the House for District 41, serves on the Judiciary committee and as the Democratic minority whip.

“It feels like an escalation to me,” she said. “I think any time you start talking about amending the Constitution, you’re escalating into a higher level of either establishing rights or denying rights.”

Oldson said Iowans who oppose this step can get in touch with their legislators and get active in campaigns so it doesn’t make it through a general assembly in the first place. Democrats retaking the Iowa House majority would be the easiest way to ensure it doesn’t progress any further.

The earliest the amendment could appear on the ballot is 2022, so there’s time for opponents to mobilize. That, however, would mean Republicans would need to pass it through next year’s legislative session, which is no sure bet.

“In my mind, it’s [Republicans’] effort to deny women their ability to make their own decisions,” she said.


by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted 8/8/19

2 Comments on "Restricting Abortion By Constitutional Amendment – Iowa GOP’s Next Plan"

  • There is a foundational belief in Article I, § 1 of the state constitution. “All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”
    Clearly, our founding Fathers were protecting our civil rights and social liberties as they founded our State. Look to Susan Clark, the 12 year old school girl out of Muscatine, who in 1858, won her right to an equal education under this article of the Iowa Constitution. The State cannot define what we do as woman in our pursuits of our defense of our lives. Our happiness, our abilities to have education or acquire property. Nowhere can we be treated with inequality as women, singled out for access to medical procedures under the law, denied or not denied. In fact the law requires we be equal. If the law won’t guarantee my right to an abortion then it must neither DENY my right, and it must not Demy nor guarantee a Fathers right as well. The law must remain neutral as it states men and women are equal, why would the law only decide for and impede a woman’s rights? The Iowa Constitution doesn’t allow for itself to be changed to bend for adding inequality under the law for wedge issues of politics. It is to remain free of political or religious bias.

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