Court: abortion is not a fundamental right in Iowa

Lindsay Steele
Father Jeff Belger holds a pro-life banner during a march from St. Wenceslaus Parish to Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City on Jan. 29, 2021.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled June 17 that the state constitution does not provide a fundamental right to abortion, overturning its previous decision regarding abortion.

Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, said the “Iowa Supreme Court’s decision is very good news. The court corrected its 2018 decision and recognized there is no fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. However, the court did not decide what constitutional standard should replace it.”
He said a Protect Life Amendment to the constitution is “still needed to provide clarity to the situation. However, the June 17 ruling moved us closer to the day the people of Iowa can protect pre-born children.”

Dr. Tim Millea, president of the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities, sent an email stating, “This is a long-awaited and prayed-for development.”


According to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the opinion stated that the previous court decision “lacks textual and historical support” and that its “constitutional footing is unsound.” The opinion found no support for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland II’s “reading of the due process clause as providing fundamental protection for abortion.” ADF is a nonprofit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights and the sanctity of life.

Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Martin Cannon, who lives in Iowa, said in a statement:

“The Thomas More Society is a founding member of Iowa’s Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders, which has become the dominant pro-life political force in Iowa. Thomas More Society has also been very involved in advising the legislature in drafting and passing the 24-hour waiting period that is at the heart of today’s ruling. This is a huge victory for Iowa’s pro-life movement in which the Thomas More Society has been very active.”

The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, religious liberty and election integrity and is headquartered in Chicago. The society ( fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sheryl Schwager, executive director of Johnson County Right to Life, said the “ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court is a victory for the protection of future Iowans! While we rejoice in this decision, we also recognize the need to continue to advocate for passage of the Protect Life Amendment to guard against future judges who want to rewrite the people’s constitution and override the voice of Iowans.”

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