The Iowa Senate passed a state constitutional amendment Thursday that would make it clear there is no right to abort an unborn baby or force taxpayers to fund their deaths.
The Des Moines Register reports the Protect Life Amendment passed in a 32-18 vote with all Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against.
Such amendments are important because the abortion industry often turns to the courts to overturn pro-life laws. Some judges, including the Iowa Supreme Court in 2018, have found a so-called “right to abortion” in their state constitutions, and these decisions have been used to force taxpayers to fund abortions and restrict state legislatures from passing even minor, common sense abortion restrictions.
Refuting Democrats’ complaints about the proposed amendment, state Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said their goal is to return power to the people of Iowa.
“Because the courts made this new fundamental right, heaven forbid Republicans are taking the right away,” Chapman said, according to the Register. “No, we’re restoring the right of the people to govern themselves. Not un-elected judges.”
The resolution would amend the Iowa Constitution to ensure there is no right to abortion or taxpayer-funded abortions in the state.
It states: “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.”
To be added to the constitution, the amendment must pass the state legislature both this year and next year and then be approved by voters on the ballot.
During the debate Thursday, state Sen. Zach Whiting, R-Spirit Lake, said the amendment is about protecting basic human rights, Radio Iowa reports.
“Ending life through the practice of abortion is the most egregious violation of human rights in the history of humanity,” Whiting said.
Democrat lawmakers, however, claimed it would hurt women by restricting abortions. State Sen. Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City, blasted the amendment as “an extreme attack on women and their health care,” and state Sen. Eric Giddens, D-Cedar Falls, said it would restrict access to abortion.
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Abortion activists with Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-abortion groups also are lobbying against the measure.
The Protect Life amendment now goes to the state House for consideration. According to the Register, a House committee passed an identical amendment Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, the first female governor of Iowa, voiced her support for the pro-life constitutional amendment during her State of the State address.
On Thursday, she thanked lawmakers for supporting the measure.
“Yes! Thank you to those in the Iowa Senate who stood up for life,” Reynolds wrote on Twitter.
Kansas and Kentucky also are considering pro-life amendments to their state constitutions this year. However, the Kansas amendment recently stalled in the state House. Louisiana voters will have a similar opportunity to add a pro-life amendment to their constitution in November.
In 2018, West Virginia voters passed a similar state constitutional amendment after decades of being forced by a court ruling to fund elective abortions with taxpayer dollars. The amendment will make it easier for state lawmakers to pass pro-life laws in the future.
ACTION ALERT: Contact Iowa lawmakers.