The truth about the Protect Life Amendment

By Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats

Abortion advocates aren’t telling you the whole truth about the proposed Protect Life Amendment to the Iowa state Constitution.

In their efforts to malign the Protect Life Amendment, abortion activists conveniently leave out the most important details: why the amendment is needed, and what can happen right here in Iowa if voters don’t pass it.

Abortion activists don’t tell you that without the Protect Life Amendment, the precedent is already in place for future courts to force third-trimester abortion on Iowa, all the way up to the day of a baby’s birth.

They don’t tell you that, without the Protect Life Amendment, Iowa taxpayers will almost certainly be forced to pay for abortions.

And they don’t tell you that, thanks to a group of radical, unelected judges taking it upon themselves to rewrite the Iowa Constitution without even a peep from the people, we are already living — in terms of judicial precedent — in one of the most extremist, pro-abortion states in the country.

Abortion activists — and their friends in the media — tend to leave that part of the story out.

What’s also left out is that Iowa’s prolifers never planned for this amendment, but rather were pushed into it by radical, pro-abortion judges in 2018.

Judicial overreach

Three years ago, five justices on the Iowa Supreme Court, in Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds, openly admitted they were ignoring the intended meaning of our state constitution, relying instead on their own read of society’s “evolving standards,” to invent a new “right” to abortion that could be limited only under the strictest standard of the law.

This strict-standard ruling went way, way beyond Roe v. Wade. Iowa’s five, unelected judges pronounced a precedent so extreme that it could effectively cancel every abortion restriction Iowa has ever passed or ever could. And even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, it wouldn’t overturn the 2018 ruling — Iowa could keep right on being radically pro-abortion.

No Iowan voted for this (except for five radical justices). No legislator ever got a say. And two dissenting supreme court justices blasted the ruling, saying it “ignores the text” of the Iowa Constitution and “forgoes accepted methods of constitutional interpretation.”

Five men in robes said they and they alone get to make abortion law in Iowa, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Nothing that is, except pass a constitutional amendment to correct their overreach.

‘We the People’

That is exactly what America’s founders intended. When courts overstep their bounds in interpreting the Constitution, We the People can amend the Constitution to correct them.

And that’s what the Protect Life Amendment actually does. It restores the original meaning of the Iowa Constitution and gives back to the people of Iowa the right to discuss, debate, and determine reasonable limits on abortion.

It’s possible that if the Protect Life Amendment passes, future Iowans may pass laws further limiting abortion. Or not. Iowa is not Tennessee. And even though Tennessee passed a form of Protect Life Amendment (like Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, and Rhode Island have also done) and then passed additional limits on abortion, Iowa doesn’t have to follow Tennessee’s path.

But without the Protect Life Amendment, Iowans don’t get to choose our path.

If you’re OK with that kind of pro-abortion extremism, and if you’re OK with judges ruling Iowa instead of the voters, then strike down the Protect Life Amendment.

But I question if you’re OK with unborn children being snuffed out minutes before their first breath. I doubt Iowans support their tax dollars paying for elective abortions. And I don’t think you’re really OK with radical judges taking away our vote and voice.

So I ask you instead to join Iowa voters in restoring our constitutional form of government — and resuming the needed discussion over when a baby’s life begins — by encouraging your legislators to pass House Joint Resolution 5, the Protect Life Amendment.

[Bob Vander Plaats is president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader, an Iowa based pro-life organization and Christian ministry. IFL thanks them for permission to publish this essay on our blog.]



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