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To My Fellow Pro-Lifers:

When you are filling out your ballot and have finished coloring in the bubbles next to the Republicans that have earned your vote (and maybe some who haven’t), turn the ballot over and vote for a Democrat. A Democrat!? Yes, a Democrat—well, sort of. Let me explain.

If you were to look at the judicial-election voter’s guide on the Iowa Right to Life’s website and scroll to the Iowa Supreme Court Justices section, you’d find that Justice Matthew McDermott was registered as a Republican for many years but is currently registered as a Democrat.

I understand how a pro-lifer could see the “D” and immediately decide to vote “no.” Those instincts would normally be correct. Pro-life Democrats are an endangered species. As of late, elected Democrats seem to view the right to terminate an unborn child’s life as the most sacred of all rights. Even so, those of us seeking to advance pro-life policies should confidently vote YES on Justice McDermott, regardless of his voter registration. In his short time on the bench, he has already authored an opinion stating how he would apply the Constitution to abortion-law challenges. His interpretation is 100% correct and ideal for the pro-life cause.

This past June, in a case called Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a major decision regarding the legislature’s ability to limit abortion under the Iowa Constitution. This case was largely overshadowed by the United States Supreme Court’s overturning of Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade. But the Iowa case was also a major victory for pro-lifers. In it, Justice McDermott joined the majority opinion that held that there is not a “fundamental right” to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. In doing so, the Court overturned a past decision that was even worse than Roe v. Wade. Without this important decision, the overturning of Roe would have been meaningless in Iowa.

While the Iowa Supreme Court stated that there is no fundamental right to abortion, it declined to set the standard for how abortion restrictions would be reviewed by courts going forward. The Court’s majority opinion saved that question for another day and stated that, for the time being, the district court should apply the “undue burden” standard from Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Justice McDermott joined the majority, but he wrote separately to say that the Court shouldn’t wait to decide the issue. In his opinion he stated that the “preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development is a legitimate state interest.” He went on to take the position that Iowa courts should apply the “rational basis” test rather than continuing to use the “undue burden” standard that is beloved by abortion advocates. The” rational basis” test is the best interpretation of the Constitution for those of us who want to end the barbaric practice of abortion.  If Justice McDermott’s rational-basis-test approach eventually wins the day, the Iowa legislature would be free to ban abortion entirely.

I don’t know Justice McDermott’s personal views on abortion. Ideally, the personal views of judges would never affect our vote. Judges should interpret the Constitution based upon its text and how that text would reasonably be understood at the time it was adopted. When it comes to Justice McDermott, we have the ideal. He has already proven he will apply the Constitution as it is written and will not read in a right to abortion based on whatever personal views he may have. Because of that, a “yes” vote for McDermott is a vote for the cause of life . . . even if he might, kind-of, sort-of, maybe, possibly be registered as a Democrat. Let’s put first things first and vote YES.

Ryan Benn


  1. “If Justice McDermott’s rational-basis-test approach eventually wins the day, the Iowa legislature would be free to ban abortion entirely.”

    What? I’m confused.


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