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On Wednesday, a constitutional amendment (SJR 9) to address the Iowa Supreme Court finding a right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution advanced in the Iowa Senate.

The subcommittee consisting of State Senators Jake Chapman (R-Adel), Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines), and Roby Smith (R-Davenport) recommended passage by a 2 to 1 vote with Celsi voting no.

The amendment sponsored by 29 Republican state senators, simply states, “The Constitution of the State of Iowa does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

The Iowa Supreme Court last June ruled 5 to 2 that the 72-hour waiting period violated Iowa’s due process clause (Iowa Constitution, Article I, Section 9) and equal protection clause (Iowa Constitution, Article I, Section 6).

Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote the waiting period’s “restrictions on women are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest of the State” and that Iowa’s Constitution “requires more.”

Neither clause in Iowa’s Constitution provides a right to abortion.

“Our constitution recognizes the ever-evolving nature of society, and thus, our inquiry cannot be cabined within the limited vantage point of the past,” Cady also wrote in the majority opinion.

The language does not eliminate abortions in the state, but takes authority over this issue out of the court’s hands and places it back in the legislature’s.

The bill was introduced into the Senate’s State Government Committee and will now be considered by the full committee. Chapman, the author of the bill, after a district court struck down Iowa’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban tweeted, “The decision by the Iowa Supreme Court in a previous ruling and the decision by this judge on this case is a gross misinterpretation of the Iowa Constitution.”

The co-sponsors are State Senators Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton), Mark Segebart (R-Vail), Mark Costello (R-Imogene), Jerry Behn (R-Boone), Micheal Breitbach (R-Strawberry Point), Thomas Greene (R-Burlington), Craig Johnson (R-Independence), Waylon Brown (R-St Ansgar), Dennis Guth (R-Klemme), Mark Lofgren (R-Muscatine), Tim Kapucian (R-Keystone), Roby Smith (R-Davenport), Jeff Elder (R-State Center), Tim Kraayenbrink (R-Fort Dodge), Chris Cournoyer (R-LeClaire), Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City), Annette Sweeney (R-Alden), Tom Shipley (R-Nodaway), Carrie Koelker (R-Dyersville), Zach Whiting (R-Spirit Lake), Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant), Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), Julian Garrett (R-Indianola), Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa), Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs), and Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale).

The resolution will need to pass the Iowa House and Iowa Senate in two concurrent General Assemblies before Iowans can vote to ratify the amendment or not. The earliest the Iowans would be able to vote on the measure would be in 2021.

This is an update of an article posted on 1/28/19.

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