The Iowa House of Representatives passed the abortion neutrality amendment on Tuesday night. This version of the amendment is compromise language between the House and the Senate.
Republican Rep. Steve Holt, who floor managed the bill, said he believes the language is better than each amendment’s language that previously went through each chamber.
“Sometimes compromise makes things better,” he said.
The revised language of the amendment reads:
“Life. To defend the dignity of all human life and protect unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the point of birth, 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 amendment is necessary, Holt added, due to an Iowa Supreme Court decision that placed a fundamental right of abortion subject to strict scrutiny in the Iowa Constitution where none had previously existed.
Democrat Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell talked about the sadness she felt when her daughter told her she was going to get married. Wessel-Kroeschell was sad because her daughter lives in California and her future grandchildren will be in California while Wessel-Kroeschell lives in Iowa.
“The legislature started up and on Jan. 27 we debated this bill for the first time and I recognized that my daughter’s life is in better hands in California,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “I would rather my daughter be safe when she has her children. Make no mistake about it, this constitutional amendment will end legal and safe abortion care in Iowa.”
Wessel-Kroeschell predicted women will die because of this amendment in Iowa.
“This amendment is insulting,” she said. “It risks a woman’s health and life when we should be creating access to quality health care for all.”
Democrat Rep. Christina Bohannan asked why House Republicans stripped the word “mothers” out of the Senate’s version of the amendment.
“Usually when we talk about abortion we talk about both – we talk about the mothers and unborn children at least,” she said. “That’s what the Senate did. We didn’t even do that. We’ve completely eliminated mothers from the equation. This is new territory people.”
Bohannan said the amendment is an attempt to “turn back the clock to some imaginary time when there were no abortions.”
“I have read all 200 court cases in the state of Iowa on abortion,” she said. “There were abortions and they were horrific. Women died. They bled to death. They got infections. They tried to give themselves abortions because they were desperate. Today abortion is very safe. It is one of the most safe medical procedures that one can have. And we’re talking about taking that away because of judicial overreach.”
Republican Rep. Sandy Salmon said she does not believe most Iowa women agree with the Democrat arguments.
“You don’t even have to be pro-life to support this amendment,” she said. “It is a separation of powers issue. This amendment doesn’t even touch abortion laws. It doesn’t have anything to do with abortion laws on our books. It just corrects a power grab by the judicial branch.”
Salmon added that if the legislature is going to allow judges to erase every abortion law the legislature has ever passed, then why is the legislature in existence.
“We just as well go home and let the judges make all the laws,” she said.
Republican Rep. Shannon Lundgren highlighted the Democrat hypocrisy when it comes to their hysteria against the bill.
“What are you afraid of,” Lundgren asked the Democrats. “This amendment simply allows Iowans to make the choice of where our constitution stands on abortion here in the United States. You don’t speak for me and you certainly are not speaking for the unborn lives that we’ve lost across the nation over decades over Roe v. Wade. So tonight, again I rise in support of all women, all men, all children, born, unborn from conception until natural death. And I really encourage you to think about why you would vote no to an amendment to allow Iowans the choice when we’re talking about choice.”
Holt clarified in his closing remarks that, despite what Democrats say about the amendment, the amendment would not outlaw abortion in Iowa.
“We know that’s not true,” he said. “Prior to the Supreme Court decision that put a fundamental right in the Iowa Constitution subject to strict scrutiny, abortion was legal in Iowa based on federal law. And if the citizens of Iowa pass this amendment, abortion will still be legal in Iowa based upon federal law. Everybody knows that.”
He also took exception to the idea that abortion up to the day of birth is not a thing, according to some Democrats in the House. Seven states allow abortion up to the day of birth, he said.
Ultimately, Holt said this is about the people of Iowa being able to make a decision on this issue rather than the Iowa Supreme Court.
Republican Representatives Lee Hein, Jane Bloomingdale and Dave Maxwell voted against the amendment.