Like many Republicans on the ballot this fall, Rep. Ashley Hinson’s views on whether Iowans should control their own reproductive health care rights are quickly changing.
On Tuesday, Hinson, who represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, joined 85 other Republicans in the House of Representatives to sponsor a bill that would ban abortion in all states, even those without strict barriers, at 15 weeks, with narrow exceptions for rape, incest, and the pregnant person’s life.
The bill is a mirror to the one introduced Tuesday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) in the Senate.
This is in stark contrast to her position from just a few months ago. In May, Hinson told the Washington Post that different states would have different policies, but that states were prepared to make those decisions themselves.
“Our states are prepared to make those decisions, and obviously every state is going to have a different outcome in terms of whatever that policy could be,” she told the Washington Post after Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion on abortion was leaked and Americans saw Roe v Wade was likely to be overturned. “I think we need to wait for the Supreme Court to make their decision and then our state legislators will do their job, which is how our Founding Fathers intended.”
Rep. Ashley Hinson in May 9 interview: "Our states are prepared to make those decisions … Our state legislators will do their jobs, which is how our founding fathers intended."
— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) September 14, 2022
However, a national abortion ban like the one Hinson is co-sponsoring would overrule state legislatures that do allow abortion beyond 15 weeks.
There’s no way the House or Senate bill will advance in the Democratic-controlled chambers, but this announcement is meant to signal the way Republicans will vote if they’re given control of Congress and/or the presidency in future elections.
Though Republicans are likely to go even further than 15 weeks because, generally, Republicans support harsher restrictions. That includes Hinson.
Hinson’s years-long abortion opposition
When the Supreme Court released its decision, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June, Hinson celebrated along with other Republicans.
She wrote on Facebook: “This marks a new chapter in our nation’s history—a chapter where the inherent dignity of every life is recognized. Many of us have prayed over this decision, and I know that it will save countless precious lives.”
Hinson finished the post with: “As we celebrate this morning’s decision, we also know there is more work to be done to protect innocent lives.”
The Dobbs case dealt with Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, and rather than rule on the ban itself, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, which had protected abortion access until viability (generally 24-26 weeks). The Dobbs decision allowed states to make their own rules, which led to total bans or bans at six weeks in 13 states.
Hinson hasn’t been as vocal an opponent of abortion as other Republicans, but she has long been in favor of restricting it as much as possible with her vote.
In 2018 while serving in the Iowa House, Hinson supported Gov. Kim Reynolds’ six-week ban, which bans abortion sooner than most women and others even know they’re pregnant. It would also ban it as long as electric activity in the embryo—commonly called a fetal heartbeat by antiabortion activists and politicians—is detectable.
That early in pregnancy, no heart has developed, so to call it a heartbeat is not an accurate medical term, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The bill passed, but it was blocked and overturned by a state judge because the Iowa Supreme Court had previously ruled that Iowa’s Constitution protected the right to abortion.
Hinson also supported the law which required a 72-hour waiting period between a patient having an abortion consultation and actually getting the procedure. That law was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2018 when late-Justice Mark Cady ruled that Iowa’s Constitution protected the right to abortion.
In summer 2020, Hinson also co-sponsored and voted for a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period in Iowa.
In February 2021 as a member of Congress, Hinson supported the Life at Conception Act. The bill would have defined life as beginning at the moment of “fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.” The goal was to ban abortion nationwide.
The bill was referred to a subcommittee and never went any further.
And now Hinson has thrown her support behind a nationwide ban on abortion for all states, no matter what their voters think.
During her first term in office, Hinson presented herself as more of a moderate on the topic. Hinson revealed in 2017 that she had used Planned Parenthood for routine health care before she could find an OB/GYN.
“When I first moved to town here eleven years ago, I couldn’t get in to an OB/GYN for over a year,” she said. “And I did receive services from Planned Parenthood. So as a woman, I have taken advantage of that. And they were just run-of-the-mill services that any woman should have access to.”
She said this in response to a question about Planned Parenthood funding at a League of Women Voters forum in January 2017. At the time, state Republicans were aiming to defund Planned Parenthood because some of their services included abortions. They were successful.
“And so, from that perspective, I tend to think the government should stay out of–maybe that makes me Libertarian on this issue, I don’t know–I think the government should stay out of women’s health care decisions, typically,” Hinson continued.
And now her position is more extreme. Banning abortion at 15 weeks will make it harder for those who experience pregnancy complications or fetal abnormalities, which typically begin manifesting between 15 and 22 weeks, to make the decisions that are best for their health and their families.
“It’s absolutely critical that we continue to stand up for the unborn in Congress and I will continue to do that,” Hinson said at a Mason City event in May.
Hinson’s Democratic opponent, State Sen. Liz Mathis, on the other hand, supports access to abortion and recognizes it as a private decision.
“This decision is extreme and devastating. It allows the government to intervene in our most personal health care decisions. Ashley Hinson has cheered it on from the beginning in her efforts to criminalize abortion. It’s time for Congress to act,” she tweeted in June, when Roe was overturned.
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