Proposed amendment on abortion on hold

DES MOINES — Republican leaders in the Iowa Legislature say a proposed constitutional amendment is on hold as they wait for an Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Iowa’s six-week abortion ban.

Jack Whitver is the Republican leader in the Iowa Senate. “We passed the ‘Heartbeat’ bill last year. That is going through the court system right now. I don’t know when that decision will come out and that might have an impact on what we do, but right now plan to let the courts sort that out before we move anything further,” Whitver says.

In 2021, Republicans approved language that declares the Iowa Constitution does not recognize, grant or secure the right to an abortion — but it would have to be approved again this year for it to be voted on in November. House Speaker Pat Grassley says the issue is tied up in the courts and Republicans in the House will decide how to proceed on the proposed amendment after a ruling is issued.  “We’ve been consistent as we’ve had a majority for 10 years that we’re a pro-life caucus, so it’s nothing that we’ve ever shied away from,” Grassley says.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst suggests Iowa Republicans are putting their proposed amendment on hold after seeing similar amendments fail in Kansas and Ohio. “If their issue is so popular, why aren’t they willing to take it to the voters?” Konfrst says. “Let’s see what the voters say.” Konfrst and other Democrats in the legislature say if they win a majority of seats in the House and Senate, they’ll propose a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights.

Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum says if the court rules the six-week abortion ban should take effect, state officials need to be clear about how it will be enforced. “I have heard from a lot of health providers who are not happy at all about the Board of Medicine’s proposed rules,” Jochum says, “and I think they will continue to get a lot of feedback from doctors in our state who do not agree with how they’re approaching this.”

Jochum says the proposed rules do not spell out the penalties for doctors who perform abortions that fall just outside of the guidelines related to medical emergencies and in cases of rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormality.