Rep. Steven Holt (R-Crawford) said the abortion neutrality amendment is his top priority in 2020.
“When the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the 72-hour waiting period, they created a fundamental right to abortion in Iowa subject to strict scrutiny, which is stronger than what’s been done at the federal level,” Holt said. “There are a couple of concerns in the way that was done.”
Holt noted there is a different Iowa Supreme Court today than there was when that decision was handed down but added many times courts feel compelled to follow precedent.
Holt quoted from the ruling, “freed ourselves from the private views of the Constitution’s founders.” And, it said the Constitution can now be interpreted according to “current prevailing standards that draw their meaning from the evolving standards that mark the progress of a maturing society.”
“Now that’s judicial activism defined,” Holt said. “It basically means, whatever they decide as a court, whatever they decide are the evolving standards of a maturing society…translation, they will shred the Constitution and put in there what they choose to put in there. That is what that statement says. That is giving them the ability to do anything they want to do with the Constitution.”
By contrast, Holt pointed to an interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch who said he wants an enduring Constitution and the idea of originalism is just simply that judges should follow the original meaning of the words on the page and neither add things that aren’t there nor take away things that are there.
Instead, the Iowa Supreme Court is rendering the Iowa Legislature irrelevant.
“It really says to legislators, ‘You don’t matter,'” Holt said. “‘You might as well take your pens and papers and little fancy speeches and go home. Whatever we decide are the prevailing standards of an evolving society, we’ll put in the Constitution. To hell with what you say.’ For that reason, that needs to be responded to.”
As is, HOlt said Iowa is now dealing with what could become one of the most liberal abortion laws in the nation.
“If in fact, the court continues to follow the precedent set in that ruling, I don’t know that anything we’ve put forth will be upheld,” he said. “It’s another reason we need the life amendment. It’s simply our response to what I believe is the Supreme Court amending the Iowa Constitution illegally without the authority to do so based upon this activist approach.”
Holt acknowledged the amendment will not stop one abortion in Iowa, but said it makes the Iowa Constitution silent on the issue of abortion so that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Iowa could follow suit and restrict abortion as well.
“This is sort of our only recourse,” he said.
Other life issues Holt is working on include mandating information to be provided to someone who is the beginning process of a chemical abortion.
He said he’s working with Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-Dubuque) on a bill that would make sure mothers know there is an abortion reversal drug available.
He is also interested in passing a 24-hour waiting period to have an abortion. While the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the 72-hour waiting period, a 24-hour ban has been upheld at the federal court level as part of the concept of informed consent.