DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa House Republicans still do not have the votes to pass the Protect Life Amendment, HJR 2004, out of the Iowa House. Caffeinated Thoughts learned that the vote count stands at fifty members. Iowa House Republicans hold a slim majority with 53 members to Democrats’ 47 members.
Multiple sources have confirmed to Caffeinated Thoughts the identity of the three members holding up the proposed constitutional amendment – State Reps. Lee Hein, R-Monticello, David Maxwell, R-Gibson, and Louis Zumbach, R-Coggin. All three men voted against the fetal heartbeat abortion ban in 2018.
The proposed constitutional amendment intends to clarify that a right to abortion and abortion funding does not exist in the Iowa Constitution. The current language reads: “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.”
The current bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee on February 12. A public hearing was held on February 25. The Iowa Senate passed an identical version, SJR 2001, on February 13 by a 32 to 18 vote.
The proposed constitutional amendment is a response to the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision ruling in 2018 (Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds) that the law requiring a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion violated Iowa’s due process clause and equal protection clause, thus finding a right to abortion in the state constitution.
Hein represents Iowa House District 96 that includes Delaware and western Jones counties. He has served in the Iowa House since 2011. Hein ran unopposed in the Republican party and will face Everett Chase, the Democratic nominee, in the general election. Republicans hold an almost 2,400 registered voter advantage over Democrat in the district. However, there are more independent voters, 7,186, than Republicans.
Maxwell represents Iowa House District 76 that includes Poweshiek County and most of Iowa County. He has served in the Iowa House since 2013. Maxwell also ran unopposed in the Republican primary. In November, he faces Sarah Smith, the Democratic nominee, and Kamal Hammouda, an independent candidate. Republicans currently hold just a registered voting advantage of 516 voters. There are slightly more registered independent voters in the district than Republicans.
Zumbach represents Iowa House District 95 that includes Linn County north and south of Cedar Rapids and Marion, as well as southern Buchanan County. He was first elected in 2016, but opted not to run for a third term, instead he is running for county supervisor in Linn County. Charlie McClintock won the Republican nomination, and he faces Christian Andrews, the Democratic nominee, in November. McClintock’s campaign website makes no mention of the life issue. Democrats hold a slight voter registered voter advantage with 35 more registered voters than Republicans. Registered independents outnumber Democrats in that district as well.
Unless House Republicans can find language that these three members can agree to and pass in the Iowa Senate, which is unlikely, they will have to start over during the 89th General Assembly. Constitutional amendments have to pass in two concurrent general assemblies before Iowans can vote to ratify the proposed amendment at the ballot box.