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Some further thoughts on the great pro-life news coming out of Iowa

by | Feb 24, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

For the last post of the day, I’d like to briefly update a topic about which we wrote twice last week—the great pro-life news coming out of Iowa.

One story addressed proposals about ultrasounds,  providing information about Abortion Bill Reversal, licensing requirements for abortion clinics, and a 72 hour time of reflection before a woman rushes into an abortion.

The second post detailed an important initial movement forward in a proposed constitutional amendment declaring there is no right to an abortion in the state constitution or a requirement that they be publicly funded.

It is the latter I’d like to address for a moment. The Daily Iowan is describes as “an independent, 8,500-circulation daily student newspaper serving Iowa City and the University of Iowa community.”

They posted a story yesterday, written by Katina Zentz,  under the headline “How would a proposed constitutional amendment affect abortion laws in Iowa?”

Part of the subhead is certainly true: “it’s not for certain whether the amendment will eventually become law.” As Zentz summarizes, “A constitutional amendment requires passage by two consecutive General Assemblies, then needs to be ratified by a majority of voters in the next election — 2022 at the earliest.” Yes, but…

A couple of thoughts.

First, pro-life constitutional amendments are more difficult to pass than any other constitutional amendment because the press is virtually uniformly hostile. But it can be done, as was shown in Tennessee and West Virginia in just the last few years.

Second, Zentz quotes University of Iowa Law Prof. Todd Pettys who

said past Iowa Supreme Court rulings, such as a 2018 decision striking down a 72-hour waiting period, enshrined a right to an abortion under the state constitution.

“If the proposed constitutional amendment ultimately passes, that will take away the state constitutional right to abortion,” Pettys said. “But it won’t have effect on any federal constitutional right to abortion that might still exist at that time.”

Of course. But that’s the point. 

As Zentz observes later in her story, the United States Supreme Court could continue to rein in the abortion “liberty.” That is why legislatures dominated by pro-abortion Democrats (such as New York, Illinois, Vermont, to take three examples) have passed laws obliterating what minuscule protections that existed for unborn babies and abortion survivors. 

However, let’s say the Supreme Court narrows the “right” to abortion, but a state Supreme Court discovers a right to abortion lurking unbeknownst for a hundred years or so in the state constitution (as the Kansas Supreme Court did last year), the only way to keep current laws and/or enact new protective laws is to amend the state constitution to state explicitly there is no such right.

And when you do pass such an amendment, good things can and will happen. Zentz quotes Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa executive director for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, who said “Tennessee passed a similar constitutional amendment — they sold it as this way to restore power to the legislature.” 

What has happened? “Since the point of that constitutional amendment being adopted, Tennessee lawmakers have passed seven laws aimed at closing abortion clinics.”

Categories: Legislation