Anti-abortion rights politicians are laying the groundwork to completely ban abortion in Iowa. They are advancing a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would permit stripping away all abortion rights under our state constitution.
Make no mistake about it. This amendment is the most serious threat to reproductive freedom in Iowa in recent history.
To amend the Iowa Constitution, the amendment must go through a three-step process.
- It must pass a first time in the Iowa Legislature, and it did so in 2020.
- It must then pass the Iowa Legislature a second time during the next General Assembly (which is two legislative sessions). This means the abortion constitutional amendment must pass again before the end of the legislative session in 2023. We expect it to pass.
- Then the amendment goes to a public vote. We expect the abortion constitutional amendment to be on the November 2024 general ballot, though it could possibly be earlier.
You can read the language of the constitutional amendment here. It clearly states its intention: "...this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion." This is an even more extreme measure than the recent abortion constitutional amendment in Kansas, which referenced cases of incest, rape, and the life of the mother.
Some background: Abortion access in Iowa is dictated, in part, by interpretations of both the U.S. Constitution (by the U.S. Supreme Court) and the Iowa Constitution (by the Iowa Supreme Court). Lawmakers must make laws that comply with both.
It's important to note that the majority of Iowans—60 percent—support abortion rights.
These politicians are trying to do something that a majority of Iowans across the political spectrum oppose—remove the state constitutional protection that recognizes the right that Iowans have to access safe, legal abortion. This constitutional amendment would take away all court protection for abortion rights under the Iowa Constitution.
The Iowa Constitution as it currently stands provides some protection for women seeking an abortion. The Iowa Supreme Court in 2022 lowered the protections for abortion rights under the Iowa Constitution but did not take them away completely. Important protections remain from a 2015 Iowa case that protects abortion access prior to viability. The constitutional amendment, if passed, would erase these protections from the Iowa Constitution.
The government should not have the ability to interfere with the freedom of a woman to decide what to do with her own body and her entire future. Fighting this amendment is essential to protecting our freedom from government overreach and control.
The ACLU of Iowa is building a statewide movement to make sure Iowa’s constitution continues to protect the right to an abortion in our state. Sign up here to let us know you’re in this fight and an ACLU of Iowa staff member will connect with you!