In the closing remarks on debate in the Iowa House of Representatives over the Protect Life Amendment on Jan. 27, State Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, corrected several myths and misunderstandings about the proposed amendment to the Iowa State Constitution.
No, Holt explained, the Protect Life Amendment doesn’t ban abortions. Not one.
No, it doesn’t impact rape, incest, or life of the mother exceptions.
And yes, without this amendment, late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions really are possible in Iowa’s future.
“Let’s talk a little bit about truth over lies,” Holt said. “Who’s fooling whom when seven states … now allow abortion at any time for any reason, even up to the day of a baby’s birth? … Who’s fooling whom when taxpayers in 14 states … have been required to fund elective abortions, and the Hyde Amendment on the federal level did nothing to stop it? And who’s fooling whom when the Democrat national party platform calls for taxpayer funding of abortion?”
“My hope is that the amendment, if passed by the people, would protect the reasonable restrictions we have on the books, such as our 20-week ban on abortion or the ban on taxpayer-funded abortion,” Holt said. “And those things are in jeopardy.”
The Protect Life Amendment, as run through Iowa House, states, “To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the state of Iowa declare that this [state] constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
The amendment effort was prompted by a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion a “fundamental right” that could only be regulated under “strict scrutiny,” a legal standard that extends way beyond the scope of Roe v. Wade.
Proponents of the amendment argue the Iowa court exceeded its power, effectively wrote a new “right” into the state constitution without a vote of the people, and drafted a standard so tough that future lawsuits could overturn virtually any abortion restriction ever passed.
Holt, who served as the floor manager for the amendment, was given the privilege of offering the final argument in the debate over the amendment on the House floor.
His remarks can be seen below:
Following Holt’s comments, the Iowa House passed the amendment by a vote of 55-44. The Iowa Senate is deliberating an amendment with similar language. If the two houses can agree upon and pass identical language, the amendment would have to be passed again by the next Iowa General Assembly (in 2023 or 2024, following the 2022 election) – and then ratified by a vote of the people of Iowa.
“We need this amendment because the people of Iowa – and not unelected judges of the Iowa Supreme Court – should decide how Iowa regulates abortion,” Holt summarized at the end of his arguments. “We need this amendment because without it, we could see taxpayer-funded and late-term abortion in Iowa. Many Iowans instinctively know that what is growing in a mother’s womb is a baby, but now a handful of unelected judges have created a precedent in Iowa that could lead to making it legal to kill a baby up until birth and making Iowans pay for it. [Even] many who are pro-choice do not support this extreme position on abortion. … So, Mr. Speaker, I move House Joint Resolution 5.”