DES MOINES, Iowa — The state legislature has passed a proposal that would amend Iowa’s constitution to no longer grant, secure or protect the right to an abortion – nor require public funding for abortion.
Because it would change the state constitution, it has to pass in two consecutive general assemblies before going on the ballot for voters to ultimately decide on. This resolution will need to pass again in the 90th general assembly — either 2023 or 2024 — meaning the earliest Iowans could vote on the measure would be in 2024.
While arguments about protecting life or a woman’s right to choose were discussed by both sides, Republicans said the legislation is ultimately designed to correct “judicial overreach” from a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision that found Iowans have the right to an abortion.
“The word abortion doesn’t exist in the Iowa Consititution, it never has,” Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, said Wednesday. “…so to me it’s intellectually dishonest and it was constitutionally inappropriate decision by the court to come up with a right that doesn’t exist in the document.”
Democrats believe Republicans’ intent is not to merely change the state’s constitution, but to open the door to further legislative restrictions on abortions by doing so.
“And now, even though the courts have ruled that the constitution protects your right to privacy, you’re going to take this to the voters to decide. You are going to make this a public vote regardless of a woman’s personal, very personal situation. You are going to disregard her constitutional right to privacy,” Sen. Liz Matthis (D) Iowa City said.
After more than an hour of debate, the Senate passed this joint resolution along party lines, 30-18, with two senators not present. The process of amending Iowa’s Constitution takes years. If lawmakers agree on langauge and pass the resolution again in 2023 or 2024, Iowans will ultiamtely vote up or down in an election. The constitution will change if a majority of Iowans support it.