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Under the Golden Dome: Access

Part of a 2017 law that banned abortions after 20 weeks included a provision that a woman must wait 72 hours after the initial doctor consultation to have the procedure. In June, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the 72 hour waiting period was unconstitutional.


A law banning on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected was struck down by a district court in January, because it was also declared unconstitutional.


Gov. Kim Reynolds decided not to challenge the heartbeat law decision.  She says the Iowa Supreme Court ruling about the 72 hour waiting period makes it likely future abortion restriction laws will be overturned.  During an anti-abortion rally, she tells supporters because Republicans won the November 2018 elections, they will appoint judges to the bench that follow the state constitution.


There is a bill proposing changing how judges make their way to Iowa Supreme Court and the district courts. Nominating commissions select potential justices for the governor to consider. Half of these commissioners are appointed by the governor and the other are elected by lawyers across the state. The bill gaining momentum in the legislature would remove the lawyer election process, and have legislative leaders choose the other half of the nominating commission.


There are also bills that would restrict abortion passing at the subcommittee level, including a “personhood” bill. It defines someone as a person from the moment of conception until natural death. It would becomes a crime for a zygote to be deliberately harmed. Senator Jake Chapman, R-Adell, says despite the court challenges these bills could face if they become law, legislators like him are not going to stop passing these kind of bills.


Easier access to self-administered hormonal contraception is a priority for Gov. Reynolds. A bill headed by Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R- Ottumwa, passes a subcommittee. It proposes a woman would fill out a self-screening questionnaire instead of seeing a doctor or a nurse.  A pharmacist would have the option as to whether or not dispense the birth control.


Access to voting for felons who have served their time is another priority for Reynolds.  She doesn’t want to issue an executive order because it could be overturned by a future governor. A senate subcommittee listens to testimony about a state constitutional amendment that would restore felon voting rights after they serve their term. All who spoke at the subcommittee favor the resolution.

To become a part of the constution, the resolution has to pass through this and the next General Assembly, then voted on by Iowans.

John Pemble is a reporter for IPR