Just as the vaccination roll-out was gaining steam in early 2021, Governor Kim Reynolds decided to quietly lift Covid-19 protocols meant to keep residents safe from the highly infectious disease. During a press conference announcing the change, Reynolds stated, “I trust Iowans to do the right thing.”
If only this logic applied in ways consistent with how most Iowans feel about abortion care and other kinds of gender-affirming care. Kim Reynolds and Iowa’s GOP do not trust Iowans to make decisions about their bodies, despite the fact that most Iowans support abortion access and do not want the government interfering in their health care.
As the Iowa Supreme Court reconsiders a six-week abortion ban–one that was declared unconstitutional in 2019–most Iowans continue to believe in reproductive freedom. According to the most recent poll, over 61% of Iowans believe in access to legal abortion in all or most cases, and more than 70% of Iowa women support access to abortion in the state. By this measure, many Republican women in Iowa support the right to choose.
It’s obvious Reynolds and extreme Republicans in the state know this and have done their best to keep the abortion issue quiet so as not to spur political action as they wait for Iowa’s highest court to decide. When 20 House Republicans put forward House File 510 in February banning all abortions in Iowa, GOP leadership in the state refused to push it through. A proposed constitutional amendment, first introduced in 2020, denying women any abortion access was also tabled this legislative session.
Let’s say the quiet part out loud: The Iowa GOP knows that abortion politics is a losing game. When states have kicked the abortion question down to voters in their states, the people have responded with a resounding, “Trust us!” In the last year, voters in Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Wisconsin have all voted in support of abortion rights in their states. Other GOP-led state houses have heard the alarm bells sounding and have since walked back extremist six-week bans, proposing 12-week bans instead.
The Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling on the state’s six-week ban is set to come down any day now. No matter what the court says, we need to tell them to trust Iowans. When it comes to health care decisions, we know what is best for ourselves and for our families.. We must protect our right to health care and our freedoms. As Governor Reynolds herself affirmed, the government should not decide.
by Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa and a board member of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa,
and Lina-Maria Murillo, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, History, and Latina/o/x Studies at the University of Iowa.