Anti-abortion politicians in Iowa have already significantly eroded Iowans’ ability to prevent unplanned pregnancies by eliminating access to contraception and sex education in recent years. Iowans are facing the possibility of an extreme future where they are forced into pregnancy and parenthood. And these policies exacerbate health inequities by harming people of color, people with low incomes, and those living in rural areas the most.
Today, anti-abortion lawmakers in Des Moines are laying the groundwork for a future abortion ban by advancing a widely unpopular anti-abortion constitutional amendment past its first hurdle. The amendment would change the state constitution to strip Iowans of their right to safe and legal abortion. If a constitutional amendment is enacted, forced pregnancies in Iowa will become reality.
“For the first time, we are facing the very real possibility that Iowans won’t have access to safe and legal abortion in just a few short years and will be forced into pregnancy and parenthood,” said Jamie Burch Elliott, Public Affairs Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa. “The Texas ban opens the door for other states to adopt similar legislation and is nothing but a full-scale assault on patients, health care providers and communities. It pits neighbors against neighbors and puts a bounty on those who help others access abortion. Today, it’s Texas. If we don’t take action to stop changes to our constitution, Iowa is on its way to be next.”
The intention of current state leadership is clear: they are determined to continue to diminish reproductive freedom in Iowa. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed onto an amicus brief a handful of governors submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Mississippi abortion case, asking the court to take away the right to safe and legal abortion.
If the court attacks Roe or—worse—overturns the historic ruling, the legality of abortion would be left up to individual states. Iowa lawmakers have made it clear their intent is to ban safe and legal abortion. In the past four years, anti-abortion politicians in Iowa have passed multiple abortion bans, including a six-week abortion ban, and legislation requiring medically unnecessary, forced waiting periods for abortion.
Iowa courts have halted some of these unlawful restrictions. But the proposed anti-abortion constitutional amendment would allow lawmakers to adopt abortion restrictions unchecked. If the amendment is adopted, it cannot be overturned by the courts. The only way it could be reversed is through another constitutional amendment.
“We have entered a new era aimed at criminalizing abortion,” Burch Elliott said. “Abortion is still safe and legal in Iowa today, and Iowans are raising their voices to keep it that way. But we face an extremely uncertain future. Choosing whether and when to have children is a decision between an Iowan, their doctor, family and faith—not politicians in Des Moines.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa (PPAI) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a mission of fostering and preserving a social and political climate favorable to reproductive health. To meet this mission, PPAI engages in lobbying, issues education, and supporter mobilization.