State Sen. Zach Nunn softened his tune on abortion bans recently, despite video evidence of him agreeing that all abortions should be illegal without exception.
On Aug. 19, the Des Moines Register published an op-ed from Nunn, the Republican running against Rep. Cindy Axne for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, where he pushed back against an ad run by Axne’s campaign that uses his own words and actions to describe his position on abortion. His position is demonstrated on video.
At least, the position he had during the primary season.
During a May primary debate moderated by WHO 13’s Dave Price, Price asked all three candidates, “In your mind, should all abortions be illegal in this country? Hand up if you say ‘yes.’”
“All abortions, just to be clear,” Nunn said as he raised his hand.
Price confirmed, “All abortions, no exceptions.” Nunn kept his hand up.
Nunn didn’t contradict Price when he clarified: “So you all think there should be no exceptions.”
Nunn then suggested Democratic politicians were seeking policies to allow “partial-birth” abortions and abortions “post-birth” (which would be infanticide and no one has called for.)
Partial birth is not a medical term, but a political one created in 1995 by anti-abortion activists and politicians to refer to dilation and extraction procedures.
In his piece for the Register, Nunn said Axne’s ad took the question out of context, but it was a simple question and answer. Later in the debate, Nunn did say women’s health is important but that it isn’t greater than that of a fetus.
“Let’s look at what is a very personal involvement of the life of a child and the role of the mother,” he said then. “And we should not be unempathetic to the fact that women’s right to health care is a real right and should be protected, but so is the life of an unborn child.”
In the op-ed, Nunn said he thinks women should be treated compassionately and he recognizes cases like rape, incest, and complications as exceptions to abortion bans. For proof, he cited his vote for the 2018 fetal “heartbeat” law, which would ban abortion after electrical activity is detected—usually around six weeks—and has been suspended because of ongoing legal challenges.
The bill does define rape—reported within 45 days—incest—reported within 140 days—miscarriages and fetal abnormalities as medically necessary exceptions to the ban.
“I wholeheartedly support the sanctity of life and believe that life begins with conception, but I also understand that there are real-world scenarios that aren’t black-and-white. There are medical emergencies that happen, like ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, that are beyond our control,” Nunn wrote in his op-ed.
But still, Nunn raised his hand when Price asked if the Republican candidate supported a ban on abortions without exceptions.
Supporting a ban on all abortions, without exceptions, would mean supporting delayed or denied health care for patients experiencing pregnancy complications, which can and does put their life at risk.
That’s at odds with what he wrote in the Des Moines Register.
Nationally, the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade in June has led to backlash against Republicans. In the first vote on the question since June, Kansas voters broke turnout records to vote against language to prohibit the right to abortion in Kansas’ state constitution.
“In swing states and even conservative corners of the country, several Republicans have shifted their talk on abortion bans, newly emphasizing support for exceptions. Some have noticeably stopped discussing details at all,” the New York Times reported.
Polling done by the Des Moines Register in late July shows 60% of Iowans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The same poll shows 56% of Iowans oppose amending the Iowa Constitution to explicitly state it does not recognize the right to abortion.
Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek.
Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.