Advocate to Iowa House: "Constitution should never be used to do harm"

Editor’s note from Laura Belin: Connie Ryan delivered this statement at the February 25 public hearing in the Iowa House regarding a proposed constitutional amendment stating that the Iowa Constitution does not protect any right to an abortion. Bleeding Heartland previously covered that legislation here and here and will be sharing several testimonies from the hearing.

I am Connie Ryan, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Action Fund. We represent people of faith and no faith across Iowa who believe in a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions without the interference of the government.

I want to speak directly to Republican lawmakers. You are attacking the fundamental right of Iowa women to make our own healthcare decisions.

You are ignoring history and you are placing women in danger.

Safe and legal abortion has been available nationwide for almost 50 years.

I came into this world when “safe and legal” was not the norm for women seeking an abortion. It was a dangerous time for women. Many women died or were harmed because abortion was not legal or safe in most states. Women who were poor suffered the most.

I came of age after “safe and legal” became the law of the land and was available should I have needed to consider that healthcare decision.

My daughter’s generation has only ever known the battle to control their own bodies and to fight for their fundamental right to make their own healthcare decision regarding abortion. They have only ever been part of a world when conservative lawmakers and religious extremists have pushed a political agenda to insert themselves into a woman’s private healthcare decision and to have access to a safe, legal abortion.

If this amendment becomes part of our state’s constitution, you will return us to the day where it will be commonplace for women to die or their bodies harmed.

The only arguments to take away a constitutionally guaranteed right for a woman to control her body are from a narrow interpretation of one religion.

You have every right to hold your religious belief. You just cannot use your religious belief to infringe on the fundamental freedoms and rights of other people. We have agreed as a nation — from the very beginnings of both our country and our state —- that government should not and cannot foist religion upon its people.

That is precisely what HJR2004 does. It inserts one religious belief into the lives of all the people, using the constitution as its instrument to do harm.

The Constitution should never be used to do harm.

Women have the freedom and constitutional right to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves, including the right to a safe, legal abortion. When needed, we make that decision with our doctor, often with our family and friends, sometimes in relationship with God, but never with our legislators.

You don’t need to agree with safe, legal abortion. You just need to believe in the Constitution and reject this harmful legislation.

Top image: Connie Ryan speaks at a public hearing in the Iowa House on February 25. Cropped from a photo posted on Twitter by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa.

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