After hearing testimony in support and against Senate Joint Resolution 9, the three-member subcommittee passed the bill 2-1, with Democrat Sen. Claire Celsi opposed and Republican Senators Roby Smith and Jake Chapman in support.
Celsi, who noted she’s a mother of two girls and grandmother to another, said the legislature should be focusing on real problems.
“I hate to break it to you Iowa, we’re not No. 1,” she said. “We have a number of intractable problems that need our attention.”
The constitutional amendment, she said, would be a distraction from those problems.
“We would join Tennessee, West Virginia and Alabama in altering our constitution to take away rights from people,” she said. “This is the most crucial thing I’ll say today. Historically the Iowa Constitution has only changed to confer additional rights, not take them away. The Republican war on women continues here in Iowa. Now, let’s get back to our actual problems.”
Smith said he prides himself when it comes to running grassroots campaigns and knocking thousands of doors.
“I go through two pairs of tennis shoes every campaign,” he said. “What better way to hear from the people and where they stand on the issue than letting them vote on it. It’s simple, this is a one-sentence resolution.”
He stressed the importance of the Iowa Constitution’s use of We the People.
“There’s a reason the Founding Fathers chose to write ‘We the People’ in such large font,” he said. “They didn’t do it by accident They didn’t say we the people, look down and say if we continue to write in this font we’ll run out of room. They wrote ‘We the People’ so large because it is about the people.”
Chapman called the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the 72-hour wait period a rare display of judicial activism blatantly showcased. Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in the opinion:
“Our constitution recognizes the ever-evolving nature of society, and thus, our inquiry cannot be cabined within the limited vantage point of the past.”
Chapman said he doesn’t believe it is judicial activism, he knows it is.
He talked about the portions of the Iowa Constitution referenced in Cady’s opinion.
Article 1, Section 6 says all laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.
Article 1, Section 9 says the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate; but the general assembly may authorize trial by a jury of a less number than 12 men in inferior courts; but no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property; without due process of law.
“I would challenge anyone under Article 1 Section 6 and Section 9 to show me the right, not only right, but fundamental right to an abortion,” Chapman said. “Where is the right to an abortion in that language? If that was fundamental language for the ruling, what due process has a child who is in the womb received? What crime where they charged with? What trial did they go through and what conviction did they have so horrible it was worthy of death? There is none.
“The very language that should be protecting the life of the unborn is the very language condemning them.”