Hannah Krause remembers how she felt on June 24. That was the day the US Supreme Court overturned a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and allowed individual states—or possibly Congress—to make those decisions for them.
Krause, a Des Moines business owner and a member of Iowa’s Krause family—owners of the Kum & Go gas station chain and other notable business ventures—said she was always pro-choice but never vocalized that support because she didn’t think she had to.
“If women don’t have the right to make choices about their bodies, they lose control of the outcomes of their life,” Hannah Krause said. “And, to me, that’s not safe for women.
“It doesn’t feel democratic or reasonable, but this summer when the Dobbs decision came out, I realized privately holding this belief isn’t doing very much good to this movement that now needs to happen.”
So Krause has decided to do something about it and is sponsoring “Iowa: Let’s Talk About Reproductive Rights.” The nonpartisan event is 7-9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, at the Willow on Grand in Des Moines. The event is free to attend, but prior online registration is requested.
Krause admitted she isn’t politically savvy or an expert on the issue, so she went out and found people who were to guide what she hopes are open conversations split into two panels.
“The first will be like a little more historical knowledge on the issue [and] why staying motivated and engaged matters,” Krause said.
The first panel is led by longtime voices in the fight for abortion rights. It features Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee and National League of Women Voters President Deborah Turner, Drake University Law Professor Sally Frank, ACLU Iowa Policy Director Peter McRoberts, and Dianne Bystrom of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State. It will be moderated by Business Publication Corporation CEO Suzanna de Baca.
“The second will really be focused on the boots on the ground doing the work right now and really actionable advice on how to get involved,” Krause said.
Panel two includes Lyz Lenz, a journalist and author of “Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women;” Dr. Destinee Woodris of Planned Parenthood North Central States, One Iowa Executive Director Courtney Reyes, Gabriella Fuentes of Planned Parenthood Iowa.
As Krause and other organizers started putting the event together, she said they were intentional about having speakers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
“I started with people who I knew were working on the issue who I thought highly of and they would give me five people I needed to reach out to and then the puzzle just kind of went on from there,” Krause.
“As we started to get ‘yeses’ from folks, we kind of whittled it down and said, ‘OK, do we have representation of women of color? Do we have representation of the LGBTQ community? What does the age breakdown look like? Are young people going to have age peers on this panel?’ I think that’s important.”
Orchestrating an event such as this one was definitely outside of Krause’s wheelhouse, but she was highly motivated. Starting in August, Krause and other organizers met in her backyard while having coffee. Those discussions will culminate in the Nov. 7 event—one day before Election Day.
Krause thinks the issue of abortion rights is one that should appeal to supporters regardless of where they lie politically and wants to make sure advocating for those rights are what the night is about.
“It’s actually going to be powerful to have this opportunity in a neutral space that doesn’t feel political,” she said. “We’re not having any campaigning politicians speaking at the event and it’s not put on by a specific organization because all of those things feel kind of polarizing for people.”
While Krause’s event is nonpartisan, it should be noted most politicians who support access to abortion are Democrats and her in-laws have been prolific financial supporters of Republican politicians in Iowa.
Hannah Krause said this has not caused a conflict within the family.
“I have independent political views and beliefs system and my husband and I are very aligned on this issue,” she said. “We both feel very strongly about it. I’m proud of Tanner [CEO of Kum & Go] for speaking up on it.
“There has been a really disappointing silence among men and business leaders in this community—that I see—but no, it hasn’t created any friction for us and I will just leave it at that.”
That said, Krause is excited about the function and wants people to feel inspired and empowered by it. She said the last few months have been rough on her mental health and she hopes this event can help.
“I’m very privileged to be able to say this, but it’s the first time in my life that something has been taken away from me and I feel it in the context of a lot of decades of women being oppressed and having to really claw their way to the top or for just basic human rights,” Krause said.
“This felt like a real blow to me on an emotional/mental level. Something I never felt before. Truly, I’m putting this on because I can’t wait to be in the audience. I need this and I’m really relieved that hundreds of other people felt the same way.”
What: “Iowa: Let’s Talk About Reproductive Rights”
Who: Abortion advocates talk about the subject ad what
When: 7-9 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7
Where: The Willow on Grand in Des Moines
by Ty Rushing
To contact Senior Editor Ty Rushing for tips or story ideas, email him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @Rushthewriter
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