DES MOINES, Iowa – On Thursday, an Iowa Senate subcommittee approved SJR 21, an amendment to Iowa’s Constitution that states the obvious – that there is no right to abortion or taxpayer funding of abortion in the state’s constitution.
WHO TV 13, Des Moines’ NBC affiliate, reported the news with the false headline “Lawmakers Take Up Proposed Amendment to Ban Abortion in Iowa.”
The amendment does no such thing. As Caffeinated Thoughts reported on Thursday, the amended version of SJR 21 would add the following language to Iowa’s Constitution if it is passed by the Iowa Legislature in two concurrent general assemblies and is ratified by Iowa voters.
“Protection of life. 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.”
Also, article’s text has the correct information, but the video report provides false information saying that only the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision would keep the constitutional amendment from banning abortion.
Even without Roe v. Wade, the Iowa Legislature would have to pass a full ban on abortion and the Governor would have to sign it. Yes, the Iowa Legislature passed the fetal heartbeat abortion ban and it was signed by Governor Reynolds, but that just prevented abortion after a heartbeat is detected which is generally six weeks. It did not offer a full ban.
A Polk County District Court judge ruled the law unconstitutional and that ruling was not appealed because of the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling on the 72-hour waiting period that made clear how the Court would rule.
I don’t dispute that the amendment could open the door to further restrictions on abortion, obviously. That is what pro-life Iowans hope it would do, but it doesn’t guarantee that would happened. It would just prevent the courts from overturning any restriction or regulation that is passed.
The amendment also doesn’t prevent a Democratic majority legislature or governor from signing a pro-abortion bill similar to New York. It just makes clear that the Iowa Constitution does not contain that right, which is obvious when you read it.
Also, the video coverage was hardly impartial the only supporter they actually quoted was State Senator Jake Chapman, R-Adel. They briefly offered a practically inaudible clip of Martin Cannon’s testimony, but clearly showed State Senator Claire Celsi and two opponents who testified.
Two pro-life advocates, who testified during the subcommittee, responded to WHO TV’s coverage.
“I cannot believe that WHO TV has posted a news article with a headline that is so egregiously false. This headline does not represent what the amendment does,” Maggie DeWitte, Executive Director of Iowans for Life said in a statement, “The language of the amendment is clear. This amendment doesn’t ban ANY abortions. It doesn’t change ANY abortion law.”
“This amendment is about judges who took away the choice for ALL Iowans to have the right to author the Constitution and decide what kind of state they are going to live in,” Dixson further remarked, “Unelected judges have crafted and enacted their own set of laws, circumventing the legislators and the people of Iowa. This amendment allows the people to serve as the most important check to each branch of government,” Caitlyn Dixson, Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life stated.
“It’s simple,” DeWitte further added, “The amendment’s language states that ‘this constitution shall not be construed to recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion or to require the public funding of abortion’ and to say this amendment is a ban is misleading the patrons of WHO-TV and the editors should publicly apologize. We must have fair, accurate, and just reporting and this missed that mark by a long shot.”