On Tuesday, a constitutional amendment (SJR 9) to address the Iowa Supreme Court finding a right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution survived the first funnel after the bill passed in the State Government Committee by a 10 to 5 party-line vote.
Non-appropriation bills, in order to continue to be considered this legislative session, must pass out of committee by the end of the week.
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.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds remarked during a pro-life rally last month that the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision changed Iowa’s legal landscape regarding abortion.
“Just imagine, in Iowa, a couple has to wait three days to get married to make sure that they aren’t rushing into that decision. Adoptive parents must wait three days before they can become legal guardians of a baby so the birth mother can fully and carefully reflect on their decision. Yet according to the Iowa Supreme Court an abortion, the taking of life, can’t wait 72 hours,” she said.
“That ruling was more aggressive than the United States Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and that one ruling makes Iowa and the Iowa Constitution the most abortion-friendly in the nation. And put down the groundwork to put every abortion restriction in danger of being overturned now and in the future,” Reynolds added.
The amendment’s 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.
State Senators Roby Smith (R-Davenport), Craig Johnson (R-Independence), Jake Chapman (R-Adel), Chris Cournoyer (R-LeClaire), Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs), Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), Zach Whiting (R-Spirit Lake), and Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) voted in favor of amendment.
State Senators Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines), Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines), Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque), Jim Lykam (D-Davenport), and Todd Taylor (D-Cedar Rapids) voted no.
Chuck Hurley, vice president and chief counsel of The FAMiLY LEADER, hailed the vote as “a win not only for life, but also for ‘We the People.’”
“This amendment’s language clarifies what is already obvious on a clear reading of the Constitution. There is no ‘right to abortion’ in our Constitution,” explained Hurley, “and there is nothing in our Constitution that forces taxpayers to fund abortion.
“But without this amendment, Iowa’s Supreme Court has already shown that it’s willing to just rulings on abortion and call them constitutional. That’s wrong,” Hurley continued. “Judges shouldn’t be making up laws on abortion. Whether Iowa is going to be pro-life or the next New York should be up to We the People, not unelected judges.”
SJR 9 will now be considered by the full Senate. Constitutional amendments need to pass in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate in two concurrent general assemblies before Iowans have the opportunity to vote to ratify.