The Iowa state House passed an amendment late Tuesday that would protect unborn babies and ensure Iowans are not forced to fund abortions with their tax dollars. it would declare that there is no right to kill babies in abortions.
The resolution, approved 54-38, must be approved by the Senate and by both chambers in the 2023-24 General Assembly to be placed on the ballot.
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.
It 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.”
Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, led debate on House Joint Resolution 5.
“For those that oppose this language, nobody mentions, ever, the unborn child,” Holt said. “Nobody mentions the second heartbeat.”
“You don’t even have to be pro-life to support this amend,” said Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville. She called it a “separation of powers amendment (that) corrects a power grab by handful of judges.”
“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.
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.