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Iowa Senate passes proposed amendment stating the Iowa Constitution doesn’t protect abortion rights

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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Iowa Republicans are moving forward on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that could affect how Iowa judges rule on abortion.

On Thursday, the Iowa Senate passed a resolution that would amend the Iowa Constitution to declare there is no right to an abortion in the state. The measure passed 32-18 with only Republican votes.

"Ending life through the practice of abortion is the most egregious -- egregious violation of human rights in the history of humanity," said Sen. Janet Zach Whiting (R-Spirit Lake).

The proposed amendment has Democrats worried it could lead to an eventual ban.

"Women are getting tired of you making your political statements with our uteruses. It's time to quit punching women and girls in the uteruses with your policies and pretending it's for our own good," said Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Senate Minority Leader).

A passionate Senate debate led up to the passage of the proposed constitutional amendment on abortion.

It wouldn't ban the procedure, but instead, it states the Iowa Constitution doesn't "recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion or to require the public funding of abortion."

The Senate Republican proposal is a direct response to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, striking down a 72-hour abortion waiting period.

The court stated Iowa's Constitution guarantees women the freedom to make health decisions, including whether to end a pregnancy.

"What the court did is wrong. Now we have to, on behalf of the people, go back and fix it," said Sen. Whiting.

But Senate Democrats worry it will make court challenges to abortion restriction much more difficult, and potentially lead to a statewide ban if Roe vs. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"This resolution is one of the most extreme attacks on women's health care in Iowa history," said Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City).

The proposal must pass in the House this year and the legislature again in 2021 or 2022 before it goes to a statewide vote. If voters eventually approve, the amendment would make it easier for lawmakers to pass abortion restrictions in Iowa.


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