House Joint Resolution 5 Passes Iowa Congress


Josh Poe

Anti-Abortion marchers at the 2019 March for Life

Henry Mildenstein, Web Exec

With a 55-45 passing of the “House Joint Resolution 5, Iowa is one step closer to ending the state’s constitutional right to an abortion.

 Representative Christina Bohannan (D-district 85) explained that the bill would remove the right to abortion in all cases.

“The bill eliminates the fundamental right to abortion from the Iowa constitution for all cases. If [the bill] becomes law, there will be no right to abortion,” Bohannan said.

The bill is proposing and adamant to the Iowa Constitution, which would eliminate the right to an abortion in all cases, regardless of circumstance. While the bill passed the statehouse, it still has a long way to go before being in effect. Since the bill is an amendment proposal, the process for it to be enacted has several steps. Since it was the first time the bill was passed, it would have to be passed by another general assembly. For this to happen, there would need to be an election first, so the bill will come up again the following year after Iowa has their next election of Representatives. If the bill was passed this way again it would then need to pass a public vote. 

While Iowa has had a long history of legislative debates surrounding abortion, Bohannan is disturbed by the totality of the bill, which she voted against. 

“What is so extreme about the bill was that it didn’t have any particular limitations. It wasn’t about a 24 hour waiting period to get an abortion, or a limitation on how long into the pregnancy you get an abortion, it would end the constitutional right altogether,” Bohannan said. 

The recently elected representative firmly expressed more issues she had with ending the constitutionalright to an abortion.

“It’s a bad bill, the constitutional right [to an abortion] didn’t spring out of nowhere. There is a long constitutional history of protecting rights surrounding the decision around whether to have a child or not. I think the decision about what to do with one’s body is a fundamental privacy, and this bill eliminates that altogether. The [person] as a human being ceases to exist in the equation,” Bohannan said.

In an interview with the Iowa Capital Dispatch newsroom, Representative Steven Holt (R-district 18) said the amendment was meant to correct judicial overreach.

“I believe that House Joint Resolution 5 is needed, because the people of Iowa, and not unelected judges of the Iowa Supreme Court should decide how Iowa regulates abortion,” Holt said.

In addition to her personal distaste for the bill, Bohannan thinks it’s a bad idea for Iowan’s as a whole.

“For every one email I received in favor of the bill, I probably received 10 to 15 emails opposed to the bill. The polling we have shows that the overwhelming majority of people do believe that there should be some have a constitutional right to abortion. However, that’s not to say everybody agrees on exactly where to draw the line, or what the exception should be,” Bohannan said. 

Megan Fields ‘21 first heard about the bill through social media and thought it came from a place of bias.

“The leaders of the house are all men In my opinion they should have little to no say on someone they personally know who would be getting an abortion, but they most definitely don’t get a say on bodies they don’t even know,” Fields said.

Fields and her friends are worried about the long term.

“I am worried mainly because the state is mostly republican, and I worry about my fellow uterus-owners. The people I’ve talked to think it’s ridiculous. Especially since the articles I’ve read don’t say anything about in case of rape or sexual assault,” Fields said.

After the next election of representatives in 2023, the bill will be voted on a second time to determine if it will go to a public vote.