Recently, the Iowa House has passed a new amendment to the Iowa state constitution on the issue of abortion. This amendment, titled House Joint Resolution Five, states “to defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the state of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
This bill has been claimed as a victory for the pro-life movement prominent throughout the United States. But state representatives have claimed that this bill is intended to neutralize Iowa’s stance on abortion, rather than push any specific organizational agenda.
“This [law] is not about outlawing abortion but rather about helping to protect reasonable laws already on the books that are endangered by the Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds decision,” said Rep. Steven Holt.
Students at Drake University have expressed their discontent over the passage of this bill.
“I do think that women should have the choice to have an abortion and should have the choice not to,” sophomore Ethan Wagner said. “I think this new law is unconstitutional as it goes against Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It would be harmful to the right of a woman to have say over what happens with her body.”
The constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion under the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. This has long been considered a women’s rights issue. Many women in particular are concerned that this bill will impact women’s rights long term.
“This bill is oppressive to women, and it will most certainly have an impact on women’s rights,” said first-year Rachel Jalloway.
Some women are also concerned that this bill will limit women’s access to birth control. The language of the bill does not contain any information relating to birth control, but it will be worth monitoring whether or not this bill has a relative impact on birth control usage in Iowa.
Some experts have claimed that abortion in Iowa has declined since 2010, and that because of this, the new bill will not significantly harm women in Iowa. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there was a 15 percent decline in the abortion rate in Iowa between 2014 and 2017, declining from 7.5 abortions to 6.3 abortions per 1,000 cisgender women of reproductive age.
However, this does not necessarily mean that abortion has occurred less in Iowa. The state is known for having a high level of abortion restrictions. Because of this, some women choose to travel out of state to receive an abortion, so it’s uncertain if the data is actually indicative of the abortion rate considering every woman of reproductive age in Iowa.
There are four restrictions on abortion cases in the state of Iowa. In cases involving a patient who’s a minor, a parent must be notified before an abortion can be provided. In every single case, patients are required to attend an ultrasound appointment before they can receive an abortion, though they are not required to view the image of the fetus at the appointment.
In addition, the patient is unable to use public funding for their abortion unless it’s a case of life endangerment, rape, incest, or fetal anomaly. This is the case in many states, but doctors can only perform an abortion during the third trimester of pregnancy if the patient’s life or health is compromised.
South Carolina recently passed a similar measure in their state legislature. Titled the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, their bill sought to ban abortion after a heartbeat could be detected – as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy.
The lifespan of the measure was short-lived. A day after state governor Henry McMaster signed the bill into law, a federal court struck down the law, stating that the bill violates the privacy clause of the Ninth Amendment.
The following few weeks after the bill is signed into law will be an important time to monitor the success and lifespan of House Joint Resolution Five.