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This week the legislature decided to ignore the COVID crisis and focus on guns, abortion, and denying school districts the right to decide when to bring students back to school safely.

I believe the proposed constitutional amendment on abortion would ban abortions in Iowa and deny a woman the ability to make decisions about her own personal health.  The exact language that would be voted on by the people of Iowa would read, “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.”

This is the speech I delivered on the floor of the House during debate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Ladies and gentleman of the House. I will be a “no” vote on the HJR 5.  When we gaveled in this session I told my constituents back home that I would be focused on COVID.  I would do everything I could to make sure Iowans had access to the vaccine and that the State of Iowa would get their fair share of the vaccine from the Federal Government as soon as possible. I told them I would work to reopen our small businesses safely.  I would provide funding support for those businesses who are struggling to survive.  I would make sure our students could return to their classrooms and that teachers, staff and students would all be safe in their learning environments.

Today, 8 more people died of COVID, we are now up to 4,500 Iowans who have lost their lives to this deadly disease.  I mourn for those Iowans and their families. We could have done more to protect them.  Today, 1,104 Iowans tested positive bringing that grand total up to 315,170.  Our daily positivity rate is 29.4%.  We are woefully behind on vaccination rates because we just don’t have enough vaccine to meet the needs of our people.

I look around this chamber and I know that your constituents believed you would be working on these issues too.  Iowan in all of our districts are worried and scared.  They are worried and scared about contracting COVID before they can get vaccinated.  They are worried and scared about losing their homes.  They are worried and scared about paying their bills.  They are worried and scared about losing their businesses.  They are worried and scared about dying or losing a family member.

So instead of addressing their fears we are debating a constitutional amendment that if adopted would take away the rights of women to make personal decisions about their own bodies.  I can tell you this, if we were taking away the rights of men to make personal decisions about their bodies, there would be a public outcry.  Men would be marching in the streets saying stay out of my personal life.  The government has no right to control my body.  Why do politicians think they have the right to determine what I do with my body.

As a legislator I would never dream of telling a man what to do with his body.

But sexism is alive and well in the State of Iowa.  Legislators in Des Moines seem to think they have the right to control the bodies of women.

This is what I know.  Iowans did not send us to Des Moines to deny the personal rights of any citizen. If this bill is placed on the ballot for the people to decide.  I believe they will vote this down because as our motto states…

OUR LIBERTIES WE PRIZE AND OUR RIGHTS WE WILL MAINTAIN!

And that includes the right to make decisions about our bodies and our own personal health.

Author: Mary Mascher