A pro-life amendment to the Iowa Constitution passed the state Senate on Tuesday by a strong majority.
Radio Iowa reports Republicans changed language in the proposed amendment before voting 30-17 to approve it. It now returns to the state House, which must approve of the changes.
Pro-life leaders said the amendment is necessary after the Iowa Supreme Court found a so-called “right” to abort unborn babies in the state constitution in 2018.
Iowans for Life executive director Maggie DeWitte said Iowa will not have any protections for women and children from abortion “even up to the point of birth” unless they pass the amendment.
“Regardless of your party affiliation, no legislator would be in favor of the judicial branch taking away what we elected you to do – create law,” DeWitte said. “It’s time to take back the rights of the legislature and the rights of ‘We the People,’ by passing this amendment.”
To be added to the Iowa Constitution, the amendment must pass the state legislature during two consecutive sessions and then be approved by voters on the ballot, likely in 2024.
Prior to the vote, state Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said they have a duty to correct the judicial overreach and protect mothers and babies, according to the report.
“It is our responsibility,” Chapman said. “It is our oath-bound duty to rightfully propose to the people of Iowa a constitutional amendment to correct this judicial overreach.”
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If it passes the House and voters approve it, the following language would be added to the Iowa Constitution: “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.”
The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports Chapman said they made the changes because they “believe it to be good language and language that should be put before the voters.”
State Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, also spoke about the need for the amendment Tuesday, saying: “The unborn of this state, of this nation, are part of ‘we the people.’ As such, they should be protected. Their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness should be protected.”
Some Democrat lawmakers voiced their opposition to the amendment, claiming it will chip away at a woman’s “right to choose” and ban abortions.
But DeWitte said the amendment returns the power to the people of Iowa.
“I believe the people of Iowa and NOT unelected judges of the State Supreme Court should decide how Iowa regulates abortion,” she said. “These radical judges took the rights away from ALL Iowans and thereby preventing common-sense protections for women and children.”
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.
For years, Tennessee and West Virginia were prevented from enacting abortion restrictions because of activist judicial rulings. In 2018, West Virginia voters passed a pro-life state constitutional amendment after decades of being forced by a court ruling to fund elective abortions with their tax dollars. Tennessee voters approved a similar amendment in 2014.
Several other states, including Kansas, Kentucky and Montana, also are considering pro-life state constitutional amendments this year.
ACTION: Contact Iowa House members to urge support for the amendment.