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Representative Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville) is entering the 2020 legislative session working on the amendment to protect life.

“This is the amendment that says there is no right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution, or to the funding of it,” she said. “And this is something that we really need to get passed this session.”

A proposed constitutional amendment must pass two general assemblies before it can be put on the ballot in Iowa. Once on the ballot, Iowans have an opportunity to chime in. Due to the lengthy process, Salmon said there is no better time for action than the present.

“This basically gives the legislature the authority to regulate abortion because the Iowa Supreme Court took that authority away from us in the 2018 decision when it struck down the 72-hour waiting period,” Salmon said. “Now, in order to get that authority back, we have to put a constitutional amendment in that goes over the heads of the Court and instructs the Court how they ought to regard this issue of life.”

With Republicans holding a slim majority in the Iowa House, it is critical the bill passes this session to clear that initial hurdle. Should Republicans retain control of the House after the 2020 elections, then it would seem the proposed amendment would have an easy path toward the ballot.

There’s hope the amendment would get on the ballot in 2022. If things go right (this is intended to be a pun, not necessarily an editorial conclusion), it could share the ballot with the gun rights amendment.

In addition to the life amendment, Salmon said she is also looking at a couple of other life issues. One involves the abortion pill reversal, which would require abortionists to inform a woman she could reverse her abortion. Salmon called it an informed consent law.

Another issue is the waiting period before having an abortion.

“Even though the Court struck down the 72-hour waiting period, the 24-hour waiting period has been upheld by the federal court,” she said. “Maybe our courts would uphold a 24-hour waiting period. If we can’t get 72 hours, maybe we could get 24 hours. That’s something we’re looking at.”

However, the amendment has priority. While she would like to pass all three pieces of legislation, she knows it will be up to the Republican caucus what gets done.

“We may have to choose,” she said. “I don’t think we should have to, but the political realities may dictate it.”

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall