Ashley Hinson said during a recent Iowa Public Radio interview her goal, when it comes to federal family planning policy, is “to save as many lives as possible,” referring to abortion. Hinson’s stated goal, however, is in stark contrast with the reality in Iowa, where Planned Parenthood clinics across the state closed and abortions increased in the wake of her vote to strip funding from the health care provider.
“My goal, really, is just to save as many lives as possible,” Hinson, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s 1st District, said this week when discussing her “pro-life” stance on “River to River.” “That’s my goal in Congress and I’m willing to have conversations with anyone who will be a partner in that goal.”
As the Des Moines Register has reported, however, the number of women electing to have abortions rose 25% between 2018 and 2019, according to data provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Between 2008 and 2018, the newspaper reported, abortions in Iowa dropped 56%.
Opponents of the 2017 bill to reject federal family planning funds told the Register Republicans’ decision to create a state-run family planning program — which bars funding for Planned Parenthood and other health care providers who perform abortions — is to blame for the rise in abortions, because it also limits women’s access to birth control. Proponents of the law disagree, saying it’s too soon to tell whether the increase is a trend or a blip.
Hinson joined her Republican colleagues in the Iowa House and Senate to pass the controversial bill.
During a recent “Iowa Press” debate between Hinson, a state representative from Marion, and Democratic Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, Hinson criticized Finkenauer for “extreme” positions on abortion policy.
“I support Roe v. Wade as it currently stands,” Finkenauer said. “And I also know and believe that women’s health care is complicated. It’s not black and white, and at the end of the day, legislators do not belong in the doctor’s offices of pregnant women.”
Though Hinson was eager to describe herself as pro-life, during the Iowa Public Radio interview she took the opportunity to talk about “times when I have disagreed with some in my own party when it comes to women’s health care,” such as supporting access to over-the-counter birth control, a policy also supported by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Despite attempts to cast herself as a more moderate Republican on issues of reproductive rights, in 2018 she voted in favor of the six-week abortion ban that later was ruled unconstitutional. And this year, Hinson voted for an amendment to implement a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. (The law was blocked this summer from taking effect due to a lawsuit filed against the state by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.)
Hinson did say in 2017 that “the government should stay out of women’s health care decisions” and that she received Planned Parenthood services when she first moved to the Cedar Rapids area. However, once in office, she joined Republicans in limiting women’s reproductive health care options.
“I’ve said that I’m willing to come to the table and work to save as many lives as possible because, while I am pro-life, I also understand the challenges that women face in having to bare the burden of a pregnancy they may not have planned on,” Hinson said this week during the radio interview.
Throughout her congressional campaign, Hinson has had a tendency to shape her message depending on the audience, including the “recovering journalist” versus proud reporter narrative and her posture toward President Trump.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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