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Senator Jake Chapman was successful Thursday as he floor managed a proposed constitutional amendment regarding abortion. Chapman delivered the following closing comments:
“I’m reminded that truth must be repeated again and again because error is constantly being preached around about, a wise man once said. We’ve heard from your side of the aisle about banning all abortions, contraceptions, OB providers — pretty much everything but what this amendment does.
“So, we’re going to shed some light on what this actually does. We’ve heard fear-mongering on your side. We’re going to take away all abortion rights. The people of Iowa won’t be fooled, they’re smarter than that. They can read the language of the amendment, just as I read at the very beginning in hopes that perhaps we could have an actual debate about what we’re dealing with here today.
“Senator Quirmbach talks about how TVs weren’t invented back when constitutional rights were granted. There’s a vast difference between applying the constitution to TVs and the Iowa Constitution when it comes to the abortion, and we’re going to get there.
“Senator Mathis, you talked about the 14th Amendment. It’s great. We can have that conversation, that’s not what this amendment does. And to suggest that a constitutional amendment is unconstitutional, I’m looking forward to having that debate. This similar language was passed in Tennessee, by the way. So, again, that’s what we’re hearing from your side. Hey, this is another unconstitutional constitutional amendment. Think about that for a second. I mean, that’s crazy.
“Alright, let’s talk a little bit about the constitution. That sacred document we all swore to uphold. Article 1 Section 1, perhaps the Supreme Court stepped over, didn’t read that section. It’s the very first section of the Bill of Rights in Iowa. All men and women are by nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights, amongst which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty. It’s right there. Very first section. But, we’re going to ignore that and we’re going to skip to Article 1 Section 6 and Section 9. The basis for the ruling to find a new constitutional right.
“No one on your side, perhaps Senator Boulton, I’ll give some credit, tried to elaborate about Article 1 Section 6 and Section 9. Where in here, general nature of uniformity of law…I mean, I can read the whole thing, it’s only two sentences long. All laws of general nature shall have a uniform operation; the General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizen, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.
Article 1, Section 9. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate; but the General Assembly may authorize trial by jury of less number than twelve men in inferior courts; but no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
“Those are the two sections the majority opinion found a constitutional, not just a constitutional right, we heard Senator Quirmbach say, ‘you know, basically the Supreme Court of Iowa found the same right under Roe v. Wade.’ That is false, absolutely false. What they found was strict scrutiny. We’re going to apply strict scrutiny to every law the legislature wants to pass when dealing with the issue of abortion. That’s not what happened in Roe v. Wade.
“In fact, I’m not alone in that opinion. You know, it’s remarkable. This court case that came before a district judge, our law was upheld. Why was it upheld? Because there was no constitutional right to an abortion. Prior to 2018, I heard no one going out there say women have a right to an abortion under Iowa’s Constitution. But now, because the courts made this new fundamental right, heaven forbid, Republicans are taking the right away. No, we’re restoring the right of the People to govern themselves. Not unelected judges.
Look, if you guys want to cede the power, the enumerated powers granted to us under Article 3 and Article 10 on how we amend the Constitution, then cede the power. Just cede it. Let’s write a new constitutional amendment to grant the Supreme Court to write any new fundamental right they want under Iowa’s Constitution. If you want a right to an abortion, if you truly believe that should be a constitutional right, anyone of you, anyone of us, 150, 50 here, 100 over in the House, can put forth a constitutional amendment. We can go through a painstaking process, it’s not an easy process. And we can put it to a vote of the People. But I’ve not seen one of you put forth a constitutional amendment to provide a right to an abortion, rather you’re going to rely on judicial activists to create new constitutional rights.
In fact, the two sections I referred to, Article 1 Section 6 and Section 9 became effective Sept. 3, 1857. Six months later, March 15, 1858, the General Assembly adopted a law making abortion a crime under all circumstances. Except unless the same shall be necessary to preserve the life of such woman. Abortion remained generally illegal in Iowa until Roe v. Wade was decided. Given this timing, the fact that a ban on abortion was adopted right after the Constitution became effective, it is difficult to conceive that a legislatively mandated waiting period for abortion would have violated the original understanding of either Article 1 Section 6 or Article 1 Section 9. Six months later they pass a law banning all abortion. To say this is a living document and they had no consideration of abortion when they wrote Art 1 Sec 65 and Sec 9 is false. It’s not true.
“So here we are. We have an opportunity to right a wrong. The court we can allow them to use the power of the gavel to create new con rights. Or we can say, when it comes to this issue, the power will reside with the People. A no vote on this is to usurp the rights as we the People.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Right there in the Declaration of Independence. Do we really think that it was any coincidence that they put it in that order? Without life, there is no liberty. Without life and liberty, there is no pursuit of happiness. It’s that simple.”
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