After months of legislative failures and unforced errors, it’s clear that Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress are desperate for a win. But last week they sunk to a new low in search of a political win.
Last Tuesday, GOP leaders in the House voted to outlaw abortion nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy. As if that weren’t bad enough, Republican leaders now claim this vote was motivated by the Las Vegas massacre.
You read that right. The GOP is rationalizing their latest attempt to prohibit women from accessing their constitutional right to abortion by invoking the lives lost in the worst mass shooting in modern American history. This despicable exploitation of a national tragedy not only offends common decency, it’s an embarrassing display of the true priorities of the Republican Congress. That’s why NARAL members across Iowa are calling on GOP leaders to apologize for these offensive remarks and pledge to never again use the pain and suffering of our American community to justify taking away our rights.
Sadly, Iowa’s GOP representatives have done nothing to make this situation better. Instead of working to prevent the next massacre or address the terrible hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, Reps. Rod Blum, Steve King, and David Young joined the rest of the GOP in another partisan fight over abortion and access to basic healthcare. Thankfully, Rep. Dave Loebsack stood up to these pressure tactics, and voted against the Republican abortion ban. Women and families across Iowa deserve leaders who will fight for our best interests, not those who will trade away our rights for political expediency.
After all the political games are played out, this bill is still about harming women who are at their most vulnerable. Many of the women seeking abortion care after 20 weeks find themselves in some of the most devastating, complex medical situations imaginable. Those who confront these decisions are often women who learn that they face significant medical complications or severe anomalies with their pregnancy. They can be young girls who have been scared to seek medical care for a pregnancy as a result of rape, incest, or abuse.
Abortion at that stage of a pregnancy is also rare, making up a tiny fraction (1.5%) of all abortion procedures. The women making these decisions should be met with our compassion and our understanding, not the interference of politicians.
In Iowa, our congressional leaders who voted for this cruel bill–Reps. Blum, Young, and King–also happen to be men, who will never be faced with making such a decision like this for themselves. The lack of empathy is appalling.
Launching an assault on the medical care of the most vulnerable women in our country in order to score political goals isn’t just morally reprehensible: It’s cruel and a deep affront to our basic humanity.
Closer to home, many of our elected officials in Iowa have also sought to exploit women’s health and wellbeing for their own political gain. Thanks to a new law signed by former Gov. Branstad, Planned Parenthood clinics across the state have lost their funding, leading to thousands of women being denied access to essential reproductive healthcare.
We need to stand up to opportunistic, out-of-touch politicians who use women’s lives as leverage to win cheap political points. Trusting women to make our own healthcare decisions with the advice of our doctors is a matter of basic bodily autonomy and human rights. Iowa needs leaders who understand that for women to be equal partners to men in our state, we need to be able to plan their own futures.
In 2018, Iowans have an opportunity at the ballot box to elect true champions for reproductive freedom. One of the true champions working on behalf of Iowa families is Abby Finkenauer, who is running against Rep. Blum to represent the first congressional district. Abby has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, ensuring equal pay, and defending the healthcare that women across our state receive at Planned Parenthood. NARAL Pro-Choice Iowa couldn’t be prouder to stand with her as she takes her fight for Iowa families to the halls of Congress.
At a time when Trump and his Republican allies are making every excuse imaginable to attack on women’s bodily autonomy, we need fighters like Abby more than ever. NARAL Pro-Choice Iowa won’t stop working to hold anti-choice politicians accountable and to support our champions as they stand up for Iowa families.
by Cari Sagar
NARAL Pro-Choice Iowa Executive Director