Debate in the Iowa legislature continues on a pro-life constitutional amendment that would protect unborn babies and ensure Iowans are not forced to fund abortions with their tax dollars.
Earlier this year, the state House and Senate both advanced similar versions of the Protect Life Amendment, but neither passed an identical version. One version must pass the whole legislative body before it can go on the state ballot for voters to approve.
The Gazette reports lawmakers and pro-life advocates recently came to an agreement about the wording of the amendment, but a final vote this session is still uncertain.
“We’ve worked hard to educate Iowans and also advocate to our legislators that we feel very strongly in getting the Protect Life Amendment passed this session,” said Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life. “It’s better for us to get it passed this session so we can work on some other important pro-life and pro-family bills in the next legislative session.”
The pro-life organization asked Iowans to contact their state lawmakers and urge them to approve the amendment.
Senate version of the amendment states: “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 House version states: “To defend and protect unborn children, 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.”
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State House Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Holt, R-Denison, told the newspaper that lawmakers will approve the amendment “either this year or next year, but I can’t predict which one.”
State Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, also told the newspaper that the legislature does have enough support to pass the amendment, but they want to be sure that the language is correct.
“Whenever we’re talking about a constitutional amendment, we need to be very careful what we propose and get language right,” Chapman said.
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.
“What these judges did was even more extreme than Roe v. Wade,” DeWitte said.
Unless Iowans pass the amendment, she said the state will not have any protections for women and children from abortion “even up to the point of birth.”
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.
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 ALERT: Contact Iowa lawmakers to urge support for the amendment.