The Iowa Senate passed the Abortion Neutrality Amendment on Tuesday, 30-17 after it amended House Joint Resolution 5.
HJR 5 read as follows after it passed the House:
“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 amended the bill to 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.”
Senate President Jake Chapman floor managed the bill. He took issue with some of what was said by his Democrat colleagues.
In response to Sen. Janet Petersen, Chapman said it is “never, ever a waste of time to protect those who are voiceless.”
“But what I’ve heard from your side is this notion of choice, and yet failed to recognize that that choice is between life and death,” Chapman said. “And it fails to recognize that there’s another human being involved. Another person with their own DNA, with their own heartbeat, with their own blood type.”
Chapman also decried the overreach from the Iowa Supreme Court in adding such a principle to the Iowa Constitution — the belief that there is a right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution.
“There’s a huge difference between the judicial branch being a shield and being a sword,” Chapman said. “And when I view the judicial branch, what they have done is used a sword rather than a shield.”
Prior to June 29, 2018, Chapman said nobody in the Senate would have said there was a right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution.
Chapman wrapped up his responses to the Democrats by highlighting comments from Sen. Eric Giddens that abortion is a safe procedure.
“That procedure leaves one dead and the other perhaps wounded for life,” Chapman said. “So I ask, how is it a safe procedure?”
Ultimately, the amendment is about the role of government.
“The reality is HJR 5 deals with a judicial overreach, judicial tyranny,” Chapman said.
Iowans can find that all men and women are by nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights that come from our Creator, Chapman said. Article One, Section One lists among those rights the right to enjoy and defend life.
That wasn’t a mistake, he added.
“Article One, Section Two describes why government was created and it is to preserve and protect those inalienable rights,” Chapman said. “Government was created for the protection, security and benefit of the people.”
Chapman offered to yield his time to any senator who could point out abortion in Article One, Section Six or Section Nine.
“Show me where it talks about abortion,” he said. “It does not.”
He called the actions of the Iowa Supreme Court “shameful.”
While the Iowa Supreme Court may have said the issue of abortion was not contemplated or foreseeable when the Constitution was adopted, Chapman said six months after Article One, Section Six and Section Nine were ratified, the seventh general assembly passed a law banning abortion.
“The same people that put forward our Constitution passed a law banning abortion,” Chapman said. “So, we’re here today because five individuals ignored their constitutional duty and instead used the opportunity that they found themselves in to create a new fundamental right that does not exist in our Constitution.”
Chapman encouraged Democrats who want that to be in the Constitution to put forward the amendment.
“Any one of you, anyone in the House can put forward that constitutional amendment, declaring that our Constitution guarantees a right to an abortion,” he said. “But yet not one person has filed that bill.”
The Iowa House will have to approve the bill once again now that the Senate amended it. Three Republicans — Dave Maxwell, Lee Hein and Jane Bloomingdale — voted against the amendment earlier in the session.