The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa Senate Democrats propose reproductive rights amendment

The constitutional amendment spearheads a new legislative package from Senate Democrats to protect and expand reproductive health care in the state.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, speaks at the March for Our Lives Demonstration during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The demonstration was held to callout lawmakers on the topic of gun violence following the school shooting in Perry, Iowa on Jan. 4. Jochum has served in the senate since 2009 and prior to that was in the house from 1993-2007.

Iowa Senate Democrats introduced a bill Tuesday to amend the Iowa state constitution guaranteeing reproductive freedom and access to abortion care. Restrictions of reproductive freedom imposed by the state would be subject to strict scrutiny by the courts under the amendment.

The amendment lies within a new legislative package from Senate Democrats intended to protect, expand, and codify legal protections and reproductive health care options in Iowa, according to a news release.

The proposed legislation comes a year after Iowa Republicans passed a fetal heartbeat bill, banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically around six weeks of pregnancy.

Iowa Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-Waukee, said there have been unprecedented attacks on reproductive rights at the federal level and in Iowa’s legislature. She cited a bill introduced last week as “incredibly troubling” — the bill would allow health care providers to deny care based on personal preference.

“It is time for us to be accountable to the people of Iowa,” Trone Garriott said. “It’s time that lawmakers make our position clear on supporting freedoms that Iowans cherish and depend on for their safety, their health, or wellbeing and their opportunities.”

Modeled after measures added to Michigan and Ohio state constitutions, Iowa’s legislative package includes increasing access to birth control, reinstating family planning services, and expanding health care coverage for new moms and babies.

The legislative package includes:

  • A constitutional amendment: Senate Joint Resolution 2001 highlights an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to protect the right to abortions, as well as the right to prenatal and childbirth care, postpartum care, contraception, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.
  • Over-the-counter birth control: Senate File 2141 permits pharmacists to order and dispense birth control without requiring a prescription from a doctor.
  • Family planning services: Senate File 2137 reinstates the State Family Planning program, which was defunded in 2017 by Iowa Republicans. The program provides family-planning resources to low-income families.
  • Postpartum Medicaid coverage: Senate File 57 expands postpartum coverage for pregnant Iowans for up to 12 months after pregnancy from the current 60-day requirement.
  • Right to contraception: Senate File 2135 structures Iowans’ right to access and obtain contraception and prohibits health providers from adopting limitations or requirements that would block access to contraceptives.

Iowa Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said the measures have unanimous support within the Democratic caucus and are favored by a strong majority of Iowans.

“Iowans have a right to live their lives without unnecessary intrusion from their government,” Jochum said. “The right to reproductive freedom is the foundation for strong families and allows all Iowans to plan for their futures and live the lives they want.”

Iowa Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said “one size fits all laws and restrictions” do not work for Iowans making complicated and personal medical decisions.

“Senate Democrats trust Iowans to make their own personal decisions about their reproductive futures,” Petersen said.  “This constitutional amendment would not only reverse the dangerous unraveling of reproductive freedom enacted by Senate Republicans in recent years, but it would also protect Iowans against future attempts.”

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About the Contributors
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.