Iowa Legislature Passes Amendment Declaring There’s No Right to Kill Babies in Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2021   |   2:20PM   |   Washington, DC

The Iowa legislature has officially approved an amendment declaring there is no right to kill babies in abortions. The state constitutional amendment needs to be approved by the legislature one more time and then be approved by the voters on the ballot to become a part of the Iowa Constitution.

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 Senate followed suit today and now it must be passed again by both chambers in the 2023-24 General Assembly to be placed on the ballot.

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.”

Leading pro-life advocates told they were delighted that the legislature took the first step to getting the amendment in the state constitution.

“Today marks the first step in restoring the proper voice of the people of Iowa,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader, a Coalition member. “In 2018, five radical, unelected judges stripped that voice away, declaring that they and they alone get to set Iowa’s abortion laws. Without constitutional grounds or any input of the people, they invented a so-called ‘right’ to abortion and then paved the way for future courts to force late-term abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion on Iowa.

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“But the vast majority of Iowans don’t want to fund elective abortions nor live in a state where a baby’s life can be snuffed out just moments before her first breath,” Vander Plaats continues. “The judges were wrong to silence Iowa voters and seize for themselves the power to rewrite the people’s constitution. Today, the Iowa Legislature was right to give Iowans our voice back.”

“The Life Amendment represents everyday Iowans telling unelected judges, ‘You don’t get to just decide the abortion debate for us,'” added Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for LIFE and spokeswoman for the Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders. “‘Because there’s one argument in the debate you didn’t take into account, one truth you can’t argue away: That little girl in her mother’s womb, she’s a baby.'”

The Life Amendment does not require the governor’s signature to advance.

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.”

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.