The Iowa Catholic Conference has testified in support of the amendment, saying it would make the state constitution “abortion-neutral.”
“Without this change, if or when Roe v. Wade is struck down or federal law is modified, abortion will remain a fundamental right in Iowa,” the conference said in 2019. The state Supreme Court decision means strong scrutiny for “any regulation of abortion or efforts to restrict its public funding.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Holt, R-Denison, said the proposal would pass either this year or next year but this would not affect when it goes on the ballot.
The House version of the amendment was written on the principle, “simpler is better,” Holt told the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
“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,” said the proposed amendment.
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The Senate’s version also speaks about protecting “mothers and unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the day of birth.” It says the constitution “shall not be construed” to recognize abortion as a right or to require public funding of abortions.
The Senate version was approved on a 30-17 party-line vote.
Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said the nature of the proposal as a constitutional amendment means “we need to be very careful about what we propose and get language right.”