State Senate passes resolution favoring pro-life amendment to Iowa state Constitution

By Dave Andrusko

As we reported in 2018, an activist Iowa Supreme Court overturned a state law that required women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion, be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound scan, and be provided with information about alternatives. The 5-2 decision went further to conclude that the right to abortion was protected by the Iowa Constitution.

At the time Drake University law professor Mark Kende told the Des Moines Register that the way in which Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote the decision was “pretty much a death knell” for any new Iowa laws limiting abortion.

Enter last Thursday’s vote in the Iowa state Senate. On a 32-18 vote, the Iowa Senate “approved a resolution that would amend the Iowa Constitution to declare there is no right to an abortion in the state,” Chris Gothner of the Associated Press reported. The resolution of the proposed amendment reads

Protection of life. To defend the dignity of all human life, and to protect mothers and unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the day of birth, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution shall not be construed to recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion or to require the public funding of abortion.

Thursday’s action was only a first step, but an important one. “It must pass in the House and then pass in the legislature again in 2021 or 2022 before it would go to a statewide vote,” Gothner explained. “If it survives and voters eventually approve it, the amendment would make state court challenges to abortion restrictions much more difficult in Iowa.”

 Speaking of the House, David Pitt, also of the Associated Press, wrote

A bill with similar language moved through a House committee on Wednesday but a public hearing was requested so House Speaker Pat Grassley said a hearing must be held before it can proceed to full House consideration. House rules require a five-day notice of a hearing before it can be held. No date has yet been set.

The legislative initiative received important support last Tuesday. Pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds, in her “Condition of the State” address, said, “We must protect life by making it clear, through an amendment, that our constitution does not grant a right to abortion.” 

With all the attention paid to the proposed Constitutional Amendment, there was little reported on action taken on two other  pro-life proposals.

  “Also, on Thursday House subcommittees moved forward on two separate abortion-related bills,” Pitt wrote. 

One requires specific information to be relayed to a woman seeking a medication abortion, a so-called informed consent measure. The other bill makes it a crime to fail to properly handle fetal remains and requires filing of a death certificate when a pregnancy ends at 12 weeks or later.

The former refers to informing women who are having a chemically-induced (“medication”) abortion that should they change their mind mid-stream, there is a good chance they can save their baby. The latter is another attempt to treat the bodies of unborn babies with dignity and respect.