GOP proposal says Iowa constitution should not secure abortion rights

DES MOINES — Republicans on an Iowa Senate committee have advanced a proposed constitutional amendment designed to override an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that nullified abortion restrictions. Senator Jake Chapman of Adel made the case for it in committee on Thursday.

“This is judicial tyranny. Do we want to cede our power, the people’s power, to un-elected judges across the street to rewrite our constitution?” asked Chapman.

Chapman, who was the only Republican on the committee to speak on the proposal , said the court improperly ruled Iowa women have a fundamental right to an abortion and a 72-hour waiting period was unconstitutional.

“What we had was five unelected judges with the power of the gavel rewrite out state constitution,” Chapman said, “a right that didn’t exist prior to 2018.”

The proposed amendment says Iowa’s constitution does not “recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion.” 2022 is the earliest Iowa voters could decide whether to add that language to the state constitution. The 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for the proposal. The five Democrats on the panel voted no.

“The Republicans are sick of the courts standing up for Iowans’ rights,” said Senator Clair Celsi, a Democrat from Des Moines. “They want to make sure they have the final say.”

Another Democrat from Des Moines, Senator Tony Bisignano, predicted there will be “an onslaught” of anti-abortion legislation if the amendment is added to the constitution.

“It will have very, very striking consequences to women’s right to make decisions for theirselves,” Bisignano said.

A similar proposal did not come up for a vote in the Republican-led senate last year. Advocates say having Governor Kim Reynolds publicly call on her fellow Republicans to pass the proposal makes it likely the full senate will vote on it this year.