On a party line vote yesterday, the Senate State Government Committee approved an amendment to Iowa’s constitution that would ban abortion.
The amendment was approved along party lines with a 10-5 vote. Earlier this year, it passed out of subcommittee along party lines, too.
“The Iowa Constitution has been updated a number of times in our state’s history,” said Sen. Claire Celsi, a Democrat representing District 21. “In every circumstance, it was updated to modernize, right a wrong or expand the rights of our citizens. This amendment would take rights away and that is the wrong direction for Iowans.”
Sen. Jason Schultz, a Republican representing District 9, said the amendment with explicit language about abortion isn’t meant to ban the procedure.
“[The amendment] takes no position on the issue of abortion, it returns to the people the ability to control their constitution and not allow judges to read into it that which was not written into it,” he said.
Celsi said the decision about abortion belongs to pregnant people, their families and their physicians, and that polls show most Iowans agree.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned, she said, abortion would be effectively banned in Iowa with this amendment in place.
In recent years, Iowa Republicans have pursued laws like 24-hour and 72-hour waiting periods between seeking an abortion and having the procedure. They’ve also sought to restrict abortion to six weeks, or when a fetal “heartbeat” is detected.
Those have been struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court.
Celsi also pointed to how abortions in Iowa have increased—by 25 percent—since Republicans stopped funding Planned Parenthood and disbanded the Iowa Family Planning Network.
Many Iowans haven’t found a suitable replacement for reproductive health care. Hospitals around Iowa have had to close their labor and delivery units because of funding, aging populations and a shortage of obstetricians.
“Instead of focusing on these solvable problems, Republicans are choosing instead to focus on a long odyssey of restricting rights through a constitutional amendment and a public vote,” Celsi said.