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Life amendment passes Iowa Senate: What's next?

The amendment will be voted on again by legislators in the 2023-2024 session before Iowans can vote on it.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Senate has again approved the language in a proposed amendment so Iowa's Constitution does not recognize, grant or secure a person's right to an abortion. 

The "life amendment" also wouldn't require public tax dollars to be used to pay for abortion procedures. The legislation passed the Senate 30-18 on Tuesday. 

So, what's next? 

As Local 5 has reported before, amending the Iowa Constitution is tough to do, and so is restricting abortion rights.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled abortion to be a fundamental right to Iowans back in 2018. Abortion is also protected at the federal level because of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. 

Before Iowa could ever legally restrict the procedure, two things would need to happen: 

  1. Amend Iowa's Constitution (which is what they're working to do with the proposed constitutional amendment)
  2. Overturn Roe v. Wade

RELATED: Can Iowa outlaw abortions?

Step one for amending Iowa's Constitution is already done. 

The Senate approved the proposed amendment's language back in April and sent it to the House, which approved it Tuesday. The Senate again approved the language Wednesday. 

The next step for amending Iowa's Constitution is another spin through the Iowa Legislature. 

The proposed amendment needs to be approved by back-to-back General Assemblies, meaning lawmakers in office for the 2023-2024 session would, again, have to approve the measure. 

Once that happens, step two is done. 

If the proposed amendment gets this far, Iowans would then get to weigh in at the ballot box. The earliest that could happen is in 2024. 

"The statewide vote will take a lot of a lot of work on both sides," Drake University Law Professor Sally Frank said. "Very conservative states have rejected such constitutional amendments."

Even if the state gets this far, there's another hurdle that'd have to be overcome before abortion rights could be restricted in Iowa: the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The court would have to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision in order for any state law restricting abortion rights to be legal.

"As long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, they will not be able to get around it," Frank said. "However, of course, there's strong speculation that with President Trump's appointments to the Supreme Court, many in the anti-abortion organizations are hopeful that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade."

RELATED: Supreme Court to weigh rollback of abortion rights

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