116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Statehouse Republicans are half way to bringing an abortion issue before Iowa voters.
State senators spent their 129th calendar day of this year’s session debating House Joint Resolution 5, a measure which would put an amendment on the ballot as early as 2024 to allow Iowa voters to decide whether the Iowa Constitution provides a right to abortion.
The resolution, approved by the Iowa Senate on a 30-18 party-line vote, must be approved in exactly the same form by both chambers in the 2023-24 General Assembly before it can be placed on the ballot.
The Iowa House approved the resolution, 54-38, Tuesday night, with two Republicans voting against it.
The amendment reads: “To defend the dignity of all human life and protect unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the point of birth, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said the amendment is needed to correct a “feckless,” “fabricated” and “negligent” Iowa Supreme Court decision in 2018 that found the Iowa Constitution provided a right to an abortion.
In the 5-2 decision, the court ruled women have a fundamental right to an abortion and threw out Iowa's 72-hour waiting period requirement lawmakers had approved.
The law, the majority of justice held, violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa Constitution “because its restrictions on women are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest of the state.”
Anti-abortion legislators called the decision “judicial overreach.”
“This amendment will allow the people — not unelected judges and not us — to decide the issue of who is going to make laws regarding abortion,” Chapman said.
During a nearly hourlong, impassioned debate, Democrats called out GOP inconsistencies on constitutional privacy rights as they relate to abortion and COVID-19 vaccination and masks and argued against adopting language in the Constitution that would take rights away instead of protecting them.
“In America, people should be in charge of their own medical decisions,” said Sen. Amanda Ragan, D-Mason City.
Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, conceded Democrats lacked the votes to stop GOP passage Wednesday, telling her colleagues, “It’s a steamroller that’s going to plow right through this crowd.”
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