An Iowa House subcommittee passed the proposed life amendment to the Iowa Constitution, which states there is no constitutional right to an abortion or taxpayer funding of abortion in Iowa.
Supporters said the bill is necessary for two main reasons – one, because the Supreme Court overstepped its authority in a decision on the 72-hour waiting period bill enacted in 2018, and two because unborn babies are living persons.
Maggie De Witte spoke in support of the bill and thanked the legislators for bringing it forward so quickly in the session.
“The people of Iowa and not unelected judges of the state supreme court should decide how Iowa regulates abortion,” she said. “These radical judges took the rights away from all Iowans and thereby preventing common-sense protection for women and children. What these judges did was even more extreme than Roe versus Wade.”
Joan Thompson of the Iowa Catholic Conference spoke in support of the amendment, noting that the organization recognizes each person is created in the image and likeness of God.
“This is a question of the common good,” she said. “Our faith informs our position on the moral injustice of the Iowa court’s decision, but it is science and biology that forms our knowledge of prenatal life and the reality of abortion. It is not faith that is required to oppose abortion, but facts.”
Thompson said the public policy of abortion on demand “offends both faith and reason in a just society.”
Chuck Hurley of The FAMiLY Leader noted that Iowans recognize the little girl in her mother’s womb is a baby.
But, he said, in 2018 a handful of unelected judges put in place a path toward legalizing abortion up until the day of birth and make Iowa taxpayers pay for it.
“They effectively amended our constitution,” Hurley said. “As a lawyer, I can tell you, judges aren’t supposed to do that.”
Laura Limmex, director of Restored By Grace, said she has witnessed first hand the heartache abortion brings. Limmex said she had an abortion as a teenager and it is something she deeply regrets.
“We must continue to fight for the women and children of Iowa and protect them,” Limmex said. “Iowa needs reasonable abortion restrictions to protect women like me and women I work with every day. We cannot allow five men in black robes to silence women like me and turn Iowa into a wild west of unrestricted abortion.”
Kim Laube, the director of Life Ministries at Lutheran Family Service, called it an inappropriate ruling by judicial activists. The decision ties the hands of legislators from imposing any reasonable restrictions on abortion, she said.
“The collective outcry against late-term abortions and infanticide has grown exponentially as the public comes to understand just how heinous those procedures really are,” she said.
Denise Bubeck, who represents the Church Ambassador Network of The FAMiLY Leader, compared the efforts to the efforts of those who battled to abolish slavery.
“Just as many Iowans helped in one way or another with the Underground Railroad, many were driven by the conviction of their faith, prayed and hoped for the passing of an amendment to abolish slavery. Today I’m asking you to stand on the right side of history and give dignity and protect life to those who are most vulnerable by passing this amendment to our state constitution.”
Daniel Sunne of The FAMiLY Leader quoted from the dissent of that 2018 ruling in which the minority speculated if the majority was laying the groundwork to require Medicaid to fund abortions.
Danny Carroll, also of The FAMiLY Leader, said the republic is built on a firm foundation of self-government, recognizing the power of the people to govern themselves. The people, he said, delegate that power to certain elected officials, but have reserved certain powers to themselves.
Among those withheld, he said, is the power to amend the constitution. Carroll said he believes Iowans should be able to vote on this amendment to restore the integrity of the Iowa Constitution.
Rick, an Iowa citizen, said he commended the legislature for taking up the issue.
“The important thing that’s before us right now is that we do protect all life in the state of Iowa and that we do protect what the constitution is predicated on,” he said. “The constitution at its very foundation is predicated on our faith and the One who created us all and the order He has put in His creation. So, if we allow that to be overrun, then we are allowing chaos beyond our imagination.”
Democrat Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell said she wasn’t impressed with how little subcommittee chairman Rep. Steve Holt worked with her to find a time to meet with her on the issue.
She added that if we truly valued all life, we’d all be wearing masks at the table because we know masks will protect all of us.
“And I am so, so sad to see that that’s not happening here,” she said, before letting out a big sigh.
Wessel-Kroeschell said we should instead be talking about maternal death rates and access to prenatal care.
“Instead, we’re talking about taking away the most basic of freedoms and that’s the healthcare for women who are seeking it,” she said.
The proposed amendment, she said, is dangerous and represents a loss of freedom for women.
“Women will die,” she said. “We cannot be a state that would deny a woman autonomy over her body and expect young men and women to want to live here. This amendment is reckless, it’s insulting and it diminishes the value of both women and mothers in Iowa. I’m so sorry to be here today.”
Republican Rep. Anne Osmundson said the most basic freedom is life.
“Actually, this bill is not necessarily about life to me, it’s more about the judges overstepping their bounds,” she said.
The people of Iowa, she said, should have a voice in what the Iowa Constitution says about abortion.
Holt said he offered Wessel-Kroeschell multiple opportunities for a meeting, but she refused and there’s work to get done. The amendment is needed, he said, because Iowans and not unelected judges on the Iowa Supreme Court should decide how Iowa regulates abortion.
Without the amendment, he said, Iowa could see taxpayer-funded and late-term abortion. Holt said that was stated by members of the Iowa Supreme Court in the minority opinion.
“So, it’s not just me saying that,” he said.
Holt said there is more than one life in the womb – there are two. Two lives, two heartbeats and two souls.