Prepared opening remarks to the Senate State Government Committee on SJR 21 by State Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines
SJR 21, Constitutional Amendment: legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=SJR21
Good morning and welcome to all Iowans who’ve traveled here today to witness this meeting and those who are listening online.
For many Iowans, this proposed Constitutional Amendment by the Republicans may seem like its coming out of left field.
Let me assure you. This Iowa bill is just a small part of a coordinated effort to overturn Roe vs. Wade at the national level – and if the Supreme Court kicks the decision back to the states – it’s an effort to weaken the protections of the Iowa Constitution.
Republicans know that once the Iowa is weakened, if their plan succeeds – then they can go back to the bad bills they’ve tried to pass and get them all out of the trash heap of history and pass them without fear of the Iowa Supreme Court overturning their laws.
Let’s review. They’ve passed telemedicine abortion bans, a 72-hour waiting period and a 6 week heartbeat bill. Each attempt to limit Iowans’ rights to a safe, legal abortion was more extreme, medically inaccurate and insulting than the one before.
All of these extreme laws have been nixed by the courts. In the 72-hour waiting period case, the Iowa Supreme Court had enough and the majority opinion went into great detail as to all the ways that Iowans’ constitutional rights had been usurped.
Republicans complain of activist, unelected judges making these decisions on behalf of Iowans. But what’s ironic is that Republicans in Iowa and nationally are working to stack the courts with judges that will rule in their favor on the issue of abortion.
A Constitutional amendment is the most extreme action that can be taken a democratic political body. The Republicans are sick of the courts standing up for Iowans’ rights. They want to make sure they have the final say.
Since this bill has been introduced, I’ve heard from women from all over Iowa. Women who have had life threatening conditions such as preeclampsia that have killed their baby and nearly killed them, too. I’ve heard from Iowans who had an aunt, mother or grandmother who had an illegal abortion and died. I’ve heard from retired nurses from Western Iowa who worked in rural hospitals that provided safe yet illegal abortions to women who had the means and access to the procedure.
I’ve talked to women whose sisters went to college, tried to self abort their pregnancy in a bathroom, and never came home.
I’ve talked to women who lost babies much wanted babies at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 24 weeks for various reasons.
Thanks to Iowa’s law that limits abortion after 20 weeks – “except for the life and health of the mother” some women have had to wait until they were septic before having a life-saving D&C.
Some Republicans in the Iowa Senate are determined to weaponize our Constitution to eliminate rights that we currently have. Today, my Democratic colleagues and I are standing up against that overreaching concept.
Instead of focusing on Iowa’s maternal health crisis, Republicans choose instead to ignore those problems and go the most extreme route possible.
On behalf of my constituents and the millions of Iowans who support safe, accessible and legal reproductive healthcare – I take great offense to this completely unnecessary bill.
Thank you Mr. Chair.