IOWA LEGISLATURE

Gov. Kim Reynolds decries judicial 'overreach' against abortion limits

Court has turned Iowa in nation's 'most abortion friendly' state, she complains

Bob Vander Plaats (left) of the Family Leader introduces Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday at an Iowa Rally For Life event in
Bob Vander Plaats (left) of the Family Leader introduces Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday at an Iowa Rally For Life event in the rotunda of the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowans have effectively lost control of their government because of a judicial “overreach” to create abortion rights that do not exist in Iowa’s constitution, Gov. Kim Reynolds told a Statehouse rally Monday.

The Republican governor said it was time to empower people with a vote clearly stating there is no such right.

Reynolds said she and GOP majority legislators had barred tax dollars from going to abortion providers, enacted a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required a 72-hour waiting period and passed a fetal heartbeat bill “leading the way for other states to step up and follow our lead here in Iowa.”

However, the governor said, much of that action was negated in 2018 when the Iowa Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling, struck down the 72-hour waiting period before Iowa women could undergo an abortion and ruled that women in Iowa have a fundamental right to make medical decisions for themselves. Moreover, the court ruled that any state effort to restrict rights must clear the “strict scrutiny” standard of serving a compelling governmental interest.

With that ruling, Reynolds told a Statehouse Rally For Life, five justices “moved us from being one of the most pro-life states in the nation to being one of the most abortion-friendly.”

In so doing, she said, “the people of Iowa have effectively lost control of their government as it is an unelected court telling current and future legislators that they have no legal authority to protect life.”

Rally organizers said the solution is for legislators to approve a resolution giving Iowa voters a chance to amend the state constitution to specify it does not include a fundamental right to abortion or public funding of the procedure.

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The resolution has been passed by the Iowa Senate and awaits debate in the Iowa House, where backers say the amendment would not ban abortion in Iowa but continue to make it subject to federal rulings and federal laws. If approved by the House and Senate this session, the measure would have to pass both the House and the Senate in exactly the same form in the 89th Iowa General Assembly elected in November before the measure would come before Iowa voters as early as the 2022 general election.

“As the last couple years have shown us, the fight for life is one with ups and downs, with victories and setbacks, but all of it just underscores how vitally important it is for us to stay engaged, to have faith and to never give up,” Reynolds told a noon-hour rally that included speeches for legislators and leaders of groups opposed to abortion rights.

Five abortion rights activists held placards protesting efforts to restrict reproductive freedom for women in Iowa.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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