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Opponents of Iowa Anti-Abortion Bills Fight to Keep Rights

After the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of pro-choice advocates in 2018, anti-abortion lawmakers are hoping to amend the Iowa Constitution. (Adobe Stock)
After the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of pro-choice advocates in 2018, anti-abortion lawmakers are hoping to amend the Iowa Constitution. (Adobe Stock)
March 11, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa -- GOP leaders in Iowa hope to send a constitutional amendment to voters stating that a woman's right to an abortion is not protected -- but opponents of that effort are rallying.

The amendment would effectively roll back a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision that affirms women have the right to end a pregnancy. Pro-choice groups have said adopting the amendment would pave the way for a host of anti-abortion bills, including reinstating a 72-hour waiting requirement.

Beth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, sees these types of restrictions as counterproductive.

"Any sort of legislation that puts more barriers in place and makes that decision more difficult will harm the people that we serve," she said.

Barnhill said clients who become pregnant through an assault are coming to a decision about their pregnancy after experiencing a great deal of trauma -- and adding barriers would create more trauma. Supporters of the amendment say the 2018 court decision was judicial overreach, and should be placed in the hands of voters.

Barnhill said they're also concerned about another component of the legislation. It would require providers to display ultrasound images to patients and provide more information about the fetus.

"Having a particular procedure dictated by legislation, rather than just allowing them to talk with their physician, is also harmful," she said.

Supporters of that requirement say it's an attempt to ensure that women are fully informed before making their decision. Other bills being considered include requiring licenses for abortion facilities, and requiring death certificates for any miscarriage or abortion that occurs after at least 12 weeks of gestation.

The text of SJR 2001 is online here, and the text of SF 2215, the 72-hour bill, is here.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA