State Sen. Jake Chapman (R-Dallas) wrapped up discussion in Thursday’s subcommittee on Senate Joint Resolution 21 by setting the record straight.
Chapman said he was reminded of an old quote as he sat and listened to some of the testimony.
“‘Truth has to be repeated constantly because Error also is being preached all the time,'” Chapman said. “We heard a lot about abortion rights, but we didn’t hear much about what this constitutional amendment actually does.”
Chapman then took the opportunity to read the language.
“Protection of life to defend the dignity of all human life and to protect mothers and unborn children from efforts to expand abortion, even to the date of birth, we the People of the state of Iowa declare that this Constitution shall not be construed to recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion or to require the public funding of an abortion,” Chapman said.
The amendment will not stop abortions overnight, despite claims by the opposition.
“What this Constitutional amendment does do is, it tells the judicial branch, who with the power of the ink pen, that no longer will we allow them to rewrite our Constitution,” he said.
He followed by quoting part of Chief Justice Mark Cady’s opinion in the Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds case where the Supreme Court found a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution.
“‘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 then goes on to say that the Iowa Constitution is a ‘living and vital instrument.'”
Cady claimed the Constitution has broad general principles in order to endure a long time to meet conditions that he claimed were neither contemplated nor foreseeable at the time of adoption.
“The irony in all of that is our Constitution was adopted on Sept. 3, 1857,” Chapman said. “And it was foreseeable. I hold here the laws of Iowa’s Seventh General Assembly from 1858.”
Pedicide was penalized on March 15, 1858. Any person who administered to any pregnant woman a medical drug or substance or used an instrument with the intent to procure a miscarriage would be punished by imprisonment in county jail and fined — unless it was to save the life of the mother.
“March 15, 1858,” Chapman said again. “Within six months of the ratification of our state Constitution. To change our Constitution is a difficult process. It is a lengthy process. It’s found in Article 10 of our state Constitution. Nowhere, nowhere under Article 10 does it grant the judicial branch the authority to rewrite our Constitution. It’s not there. And that’s exactly what happened and that’s exactly why we’re proposing this constitutional amendment, to reign in judicial activism.”
For those with time to burn, Chapman extended a challenge. Research Article 1 Section 6 and Article 1 Section 9 of the Iowa Constitution. Those are the sections Cady referred to in his decision. Find where there is a right to an abortion.
“You will not find it,” Chapman said. “It is the most misconstrued decision I have ever seen.”