Statement on constitutional amendment on women’s health

More than 30 labor and delivery departments have closed around our state. We have a shortage of obstetricians. Options for prenatal care are shrinking. We should be focusing on these solvable problems.

Read and track Senate Joint Resolution 21

State Sen. Claire Celsi’s prepared remarks for subcommittee meeting on SJR 21

January 16, 2019

Good morning, and welcome to all Iowans who came to express their opinions here today. This is the one and only time that a public expression of opposition or support of an amendment to our constitution will be allowed.

It speaks volumes to me that the notice for this meeting was requested from my clerk barely in time to meet the 24-hour notice Senate handshake agreement. But the notice was not received through the normal channels by Senate staff, the lobby or the public due to a technical malfunction. When asked to move the meeting to a more amenable time so that more members of the public – those who would be affected most by this law – the suggestion was rejected by the majority.

It’s a sad day for us when we have four large public meetings for sports betting here at the Capitol, and one poorly noticed public meeting in a small room for such a consequential one here today.

The Iowa Constitution has been updated a number of times in our state’s history. In every circumstance – it was to update and modernize, right a wrong, or expand the rights of our citizens. This amendment would take rights away. And that is the wrong direction for Iowans. Public poll after public poll affirms that our constituents trust pregnant Iowans to make decisions about their own bodies with the advice of their physicians, their partner and their God.

In contrast, if approved, this Constitutional amendment seeks to take away a right to bodily autonomy and privacy. The Supreme Court recently elevated its recent decision to include the phrase “strict scrutiny to applies to the right to an abortion.” That means that this right is so important that any attempt to diminish this right should be considered a very serious encroachment on individual rights.

Some Republicans in the Senate are determined to continue this war on pregnant Iowans – to stand directly between an individual who is making a serious and consequential decision for themselves and their family. These senators want to metaphorically gown up and come right in to the surgical suite and tell that trained physician and the person giving birth and their family that THEY KNOW BETTER. They get to make those decisions.

My Senate democratic colleagues and I are standing up to say – No way. Not on our watch.

We have a serious maternal health crisis on our hands. More than 30 labor and delivery departments have closed around our state. There are serious shortages of obstetricians around the state. Options for prenatal care are shrinking. Instead of focusing on these solvable problems, Republicans are choosing instead to focus on a long odyssey of restricting rights through a constitutional amendment and a public vote.

Iowans deserve public servants who listen to their needs and respond. Iowans from all over the state are asking me to maintain their rights.