Constitutional amendment to ban abortion

Since 2011, politicians have passed more than 400 abortion restrictions in 32 states.  These medically unnecessary laws make it difficult for people to access abortion care and are often intended to shame and stigmatize women. These laws range in scope and include full-out abortion bans, laws that give embryos the same legal rights as people, restrictions on who can access care, medically unnecessary facility restrictions intended to shutter clinics, mandates that doctors give their patients medically inaccurate information about abortion, requirements that patients make multiple, medically unnecessary appointments for care, and more. This legislative session, four of these bills have been proposed and by the end of next week, all four will have passed through House committees and be ready for floor debate. 

One of the four bills is a constitutional amendment to ban abortions in Iowa. Iowa Republicans have chosen the nuclear option. There is nothing small or insignificant about a constitutional amendment. This amendment, if it passes, will end abortions in Iowa.

A brief overview

Two court cases have led to this proposal: 

  1. Roe v. Wade (Roe) decided in the US Supreme Court
  2. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds (Reynolds) decided in the Iowa Supreme Count

In the country: In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled the following in Roe v. Wade:  ”We therefore conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.” (page 15). Seventy-seven percent of Americans do not want Roe to be overturned.  However, under the current political environment, Roe is likely to be overturned. If Roe is overturned, the decision goes to the states. 

In Iowa: In 2018, Former Chief Justice Cady made a nearly identical conclusion to Roe  in the Reynolds majority decision. If Roe is overturned, Iowans will have rights under the Reynolds decision. 

Both decisions are well reasoned and not influenced by political ideology. The Reynolds decision is nearly identical to Roe except that it applies to the Iowa Constitution. This year, Iowa Republicans have offered an amendment, HSB 577 to amend the constitution to ban abortions. This constitutional amendment would overturn Reynolds and go much further. 

Iowa Women deserve quality care

Women are thoughtful, careful and capable when they make decisions about their reproduction based on what they know about the challenges of pregnancy, health, parenting, and their own personal circumstances. Although we may not agree with why they make the decision, it is important that politicians not interfere in this area. 

Our laws should support and safeguard a woman’s helath; this abortion ban fails to do that. Every pregnancy is unique. A woman who experiences complications that threaten her health should be able to consider all options. Couples experiencing infertility should be able to consider all options. This constitutional amendment would seriously restrict infertility treatment. Our families are too important to put at risk and this amendment does that. Only a woman and her doctor should make this difficult medical decision, not politicians. 

This amendment is based on conservative ideology. It is not based on fact, it is not based on medical science, and it is not based on the facts of the Reynolds case. 

Iowa faces serious maternal health issues

Iowa has the lowest ratio of obstetricians and gynecologists per woman of reproductive age. Twenty-nine Iowa hospitals have closed their maternity wards. Our maternal death rates have doubled in three years. We have real issues regarding women’s health. Limiting a woman’s health care options will put more women at risk. . 


Former Chief Justice Cady passed away last November. His death was a terrible blow to justice in Iowa. 

Quotes of the Week: “Autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free. At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one’s own identity, destiny, and place in the world. Nothing could be more fundamental to the notion of liberty. We therefore hold, under the Iowa Constitution, that implicit in the concept of ordered liberty is the ability to decide whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy.” –Former Chief Justice Cady page 51

“Reasonable minds unquestionably diverge as to the morality of terminating a pregnancy. ‘It is conventional constitutional doctrine that where reasonable people disagree the government can adopt one position or the other. That theorem, however, assumes a state of affairs in which the choice does not intrude upon a protected liberty.’”Casey, 505 U.S. at 851, 112 S. Ct. at 2806–07 (page 63 Reynolds)