Capital Clicks

Iowa Senate changes proposed abortion amendment

By: - April 6, 2021 4:40 pm

The interior of the Iowa Capitol dome. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere)

The Iowa Senate on Tuesday passed an altered version of a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare there is no right to an abortion.

The House passed House Joint Resolution 5 on Jan. 27. The original language stated: “To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”

The Senate’s version of the amendment would read:

“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.”

Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, floor manager of the bill, did not offer a specific reason for the change, except to say “we believe it to be good language and language that should be put before the voters.” He did not specify any efforts to “expand abortion even to the day of birth” in Iowa. Lawmakers in Iowa have not proposed legislation to expand abortion to the day of birth.

As in the House, lawmakers focused on the merits of legal abortion.

“The unborn of this state, of this nation, are part of ‘we the people.’ As such, they should be protected. Their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness should be protected,” Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, said.

Sen Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, cited a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll published last month, showing less than one-third of Iowans support a constitutional amendment to say the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion.

“Public poll after public poll affirms that our constituents trust pregnant Iowans to make decisions about their own bodies, with the advice of their physicians, their partner and their God,” Celsi said.

According to the poll, 31% support such an amendment, with 58% opposed and 11% unsure.

The resolution passed the Senate on a 30-17 party-line vote, with Democrats opposed. It now must return to the House for consideration of the amendment. If approved, the legislation would need approval in the 2023-24 General Assembly before it would go before voters.

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Kathie Obradovich
Kathie Obradovich

Editor Kathie Obradovich has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa Statehouse for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine. She is a leading voice on Iowa politics and makes regular appearances on state, national and international news programs. She has led national-award-winning coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and the Register’s Iowa Poll.