Ahead of November’s elections and the Iowa Legislature’s potential vote on a ‘Protect Life’ constitutional amendment, Planned Parenthood Advocates last week launched a six-figure campaign to hold state legislators accountable to “bad health care votes.”
Iowans should now expect to see digital ads that target Republican legislators like Reps. Jeff Shipley and Sandy Salmon, urging Iowans to oppose the amendment which would not recognize, grant or secure the right to an abortion or require public funding of them. The campaign, which is part of a $5 million, 11-state effort to put pressure on lawmakers during the COVID-19 pandemic, will include virtual organizing events for supporters that link health care funding cuts to intensified coronavirus outcomes.
“We need leaders who will expand access to basic health care, not attack it to score political points,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “While Iowans are protesting against racism and white supremacy, state lawmakers like Representatives Jeff Shipley, Sandy Salmon and more are trying sneak through policies to restrict access to reproductive health care. This is part of their long standing record of decimating health care access –– which has exacerbated health outcomes during the coronavirus pandemic and have disproportionately harmed Black Iowans.”
A legislative focus is a large part of Planned Parenthood’s campaign. The Iowa House’s narrow Republican majority is on the ballot this November as their 53-47 advantage is subject to competition—eight House Republicans are retiring this year compared to two Democrats.
According to Planned Parenthood, nearly 4,000 Iowans committed taking action to stop the constitutional amendment in the first three days of running ads and sent over 1,000 emails to representatives asking them to drop the constitutional amendment.
The current bill cleared the Iowa House Judiciary Committee by an 11 to 9 party-line vote in February and then passed through the Senate by a 32-18 vote.
“As we take to the streets to fight police brutality and white supremacy, Republicans in Des Moines are trying to change the Constitution and take away our right to abortion. Enough. Tell Rep. Shipley to stop trying to ban abortion,” said a recent ad that included a photo of the legislator.
The campaign will also include virtual organizing and educational events to inform the public and supporters to “connect the dots for Iowans on how attacks on health care over the last several years is now exacerbating health outcomes during the coronavirus.”
They’ll focus on past funding cuts, like when in 2017 Woodbury County was stripped of money for their Planned Parenthood Sioux City health center, leading to its closure. STD rates in the county are now up 74%.
“We will hold legislators accountable to those votes and the impact that’s having in the pandemic,” said Planned Parenthood.
by Isabella Murray
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