This week, a drafted U.S. Supreme Court ruling was leaked that signaled how it may vote on a case dismantling Roe v. Wade. Originally argued in 1973, the Roe v. Wade case established a constitutional right for an individual to obtain an abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the legality of abortion rights would be up to each individual state. In Iowa, there would be no immediate changes to the law due to a 2018 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court stating that individuals have a “fundamental right to abortion” in the state.
Instead of protecting these rights, Republican politicians are working diligently to change Iowa’s Constitution and take away the most basic right of a pregnant person to make their own health care decisions. This Republican proposed Constitutional Amendment passed the Legislature in the 2021 General Assembly, and must pass the Legislature again in the 2024 General Assembly. If it were to pass the Legislature a second time, it would be placed on the ballot for the public to vote. If both the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the passing of the Constitutional Amendment were to occur, abortions would be banned in the state with no exceptions allowed for rape, incest, or even to save the life of the mother.
This oppressive extremism is out-of-step with what every day Iowans think. A poll taken in 2021 showed that 57 percent of Iowans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This was up 8 percent from 2020.
The leaked Supreme Court opinion is only the latest step in the attack on Iowan’s reproductive health care decisions. In 2018, Republican lawmakers attacked bodily autonomy by passing a law that would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, usually at about 6 weeks. This is before many people even know they are pregnant. This law was struck down as unconstitutional by the Iowa courts at that time.
In 2017, the same lawmakers decided to decline $3 million of annual federal funding to help Iowa create a state family program. This closed down multiple family planning and health care clinics. The closures left 14,600 Iowans without health care, including access to services like birth control, cancer screenings, and other reproductive health services. Since that time, more labor and delivery units have closed across Iowa while Iowa’s abortion rate has risen dramatically.
Iowa will continue to be a dangerous place for people to live should the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision stand. Iowans should be able to make their own healthcare decisions, not politicians. As history has shown, bans like these will not decrease the number of abortions performed, but will only force people to find desperate and deadly alternatives.