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The Amendment must be passed again in the next biennium, before it goes on the ballot for Iowans to decide

Des Moines, IA—Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate today passed a bill to amend the state constitution to strip Iowans of their right to safe and legal abortion, clearing the way for the measure to again go before the Legislature as early as 2023. If it passes through the next General Assembly, Iowa voters would have the final say on the proposal as soon as 2024.  A recent Des Moines Register poll found that less than one-third of Iowans support the proposed constitutional amendment and support has decreased compared to last year, indicating that opposition to the proposal is growing. 

Iowa Constitutional Amendment Explained

“Anti-abortion lawmakers want Iowans to believe the constitutional amendment is a neutral measure, but we know better. The constitutional amendment is an intentional effort to ban safe, legal abortion in Iowa,” said Jamie Burch Elliott, Public Policy Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa. “Lawmakers continue prioritizing their narrow political agenda over the health and wellbeing of their constituents, and we know most Iowans don’t support the amendment.”

Tennessee politicians and voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2014 taking away people’s right to safe and legal abortion. At the time, Tennessee lawmakers sold the measure as a way to restore regulation of abortion back to the legislature instead of the courts.  Today, Iowa politicians are using the same rhetoric to try to justify the proposed constitutional amendment in Iowa.

Since the adoption of the constitutional amendment, Tennessee has passed nearly a dozen restrictions on abortion, including a six-week ban, a trigger ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned and a reason ban. Lawmakers also approved a medically unnecessary forced 48-hour waiting period, scripted mandatory abortion “counseling,” ultrasound requirements and scientifically unfounded messaging regarding so-called medication abortion reversal.

“After passing a similar constitutional amendment, Tennessee lawmakers used the amendment to justify a slew of harmful legislation that decimated reproductive health care and access to abortion in their state,” said Burch Elliott. “Iowa anti-abortion lawmakers want to eliminate safe, legal abortion, and they are using the constitutional amendment to pave the way. But Iowans have made it clear that they do not support these extreme policies. The decision to seek an abortion is between Iowans, their family, their faith and their doctor. Politicians need to respect Iowans’ reproductive freedom and drop the constitutional amendment from their priorities.”

Iowa lawmakers have largely left their constituents out of the legislative process by failing to adopt COVID restrictions or a virtual forum for people to provide input. Hundred of Iowans have spoken up against the proposal, sending more than 1,500 emails to legislators and submitting written testimony. Legislators, however, are not required to read the testimony. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa also launched a five-figure paid advertising statewide campaign sharing experiences of Iowa women before abortion was safe and legal.

Many Iowa organizations have registered their opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment, including the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, ACLU of Iowa, Iowa Medical Society, League of Women Voters of Iowa and One Iowa.

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