Iowa Lawmakers React To Decision That Keeps Abortion Legal

Iowa lawmakers weighed in Friday after a split 3-3 Iowa Supreme Court decision essentially rejected Gov. Kim Reynolds’ law limiting abortion to just six weeks—before most know they’re pregnant—keeping in place the right to terminate your pregnancy up to 20 weeks.

Iowa Democrats, who largely support doing away with restrictive abortion laws, applauded the decision.

“I am thrilled that the Iowa Supreme Court will not stand in the way of Iowans who need abortion care,” said Rita Hart, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, in a release.

“We’ve already seen miscarriage patients and sexual assault survivors denied the health care that they need to heal and go forward with their lives,” Hart added. “I am glad that, for today, Iowans can breathe a sigh of relief that their right to make their own health care decisions is protected under the law.”

Iowa Republicans, meanwhile, fumed, continuing to tout their belief that women should always carry their pregnancies to term, no matter the consequences.

“To say that today’s lack of action by the Iowa Supreme Court is a disappointment is an understatement,” Reynolds said in a release, adding she believed there was “no fundamental right to abortion” in Iowa or US law.

“But the fight is not over,” she continued, noting she and others were “reviewing our options in preparation for continuing the fight.”

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Iowa Republicans: ‘Extremely disappointed

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said he and other Senate Republicans planned to “work with Governor Reynolds and the House to advance pro-life policies,” like the unscientifically named 2018 “Fetal Heartbeat Law” that would have prevented virtually all abortion and remains illegal thanks to Friday’s court decision.

“I disagree with the Supreme Court’s opinion today,” Whitver said while notiing he was confident Republican majorities in state government would find a way around it. “Senate Republicans have a consistent record of defending life.”

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley also said he was “extremely disappointed” in the decision.

“We feel strongly that the Heartbeat Bill is a good piece of legislation that would save the innocent lives of unborn children,” Grassley said. “Going forward, we will work together to pass legislation that will protect life, support new mothers, and promote strong families in Iowa.”

US Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion also noted she was “so disappointed.”

“I am unapologetically pro-life, and am grateful we have a pro-life governor and legislature who will stand up for the unborn,” she tweeted.

US Sen. Joni Ernst replied to Reynolds’ statement, “I agree.”

“Protecting life is a fight we will continue,” Ernst tweeted.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, who recently decided the state would no longer pay for emergency contraception or abortions for rape victims, also expressed her “disappointment.”

“There is no right more valuable than the right to life,” Bird tweeted. “I will keep fighting to protect the unborn.”

Iowa Democrats: ‘Huge win for Iowans’

Democrats broadly celebrated the ruling, while cautioning Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to ban the medical procedure.

Reproductive justice rallies were scheduled Friday afternoon and evening at locations in central and eastern Iowa.



“We won!” tweeted state Sen. Claire Celsi of West Des Moines right after the ruling.

“Today, Iowa Justices correctly ruled that they should not legislate abortion laws from the bench,” she wrote in a longer release. “Government bureaucrats have no business meddling in these decisions.”

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst wrote the ruling “means Iowans still have the reproductive freedom they want and deserve.” She pointed out that a majority of Iowans, 61%, believe the right to an abortion should not be restricted in most or all cases, according to the most recent Iowa Poll.

“These decisions are deeply personal, and the ability to make our own health care decisions is fundamental to our rights as individuals,” Konfrst wrote in a Twitter thread. “This should be a wake-up call for @IAGovernor and #IAGOP to start listening to Iowans, not just the special interests.”

Sen. Zach Wahls of Coralville called the decision “a victory for Iowa women and their families.” But though the ruling makes it harder to enact abortion restrictions without a constitutional amendment—which would require the approval of Iowa voters—he noted Republicans planned to do just that.

“Iowans are pro-choice and pro-freedom,” Wahls wrote. “It’s time for Iowa Republicans to stop their attacks on our rights and support Iowa women and their rights to freedom, bodily autonomy [and] self-determination.”

“It’s official—the Iowa Supreme Court kept our reproductive freedom!” tweeted Rep. Eric Gjerde of Cedar Rapids. “I believe in protecting reproductive freedom because every Iowan deserves the right to make their own health care decisions.”

Rep. Heather Matson of Ankeny called it “a win for Iowans who deserve bodily autonomy and the right to make our own reproductive health care decisions.”

“I’ll celebrate today AND work to ensure these rights are upheld in the Legislature moving forward,” she tweeted. “We know this is not the end.”

Rep. Sami Scheetz of Cedar Rapids called it “a huge win for Iowans.”

“But make no mistake—the GOP will continue to stop at nothing to end a woman’s right to choose,” he wrote.

Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott of Windsor Heights agreed the ruling was “good news,” but echoed Wahls’ and Konfrst’s concerns about an upcoming constitutional amendment.

“An extreme group of Republican politicians didn’t like the court’s decision based on our state’s constitution, so they’ve been working to challenge it by changing the court AND the constitution,” she wrote. “The fight to protect Iowan’s rights continues.”

Sen. Janice Weiner of Iowa City said Reynolds had “tried for one year to ban abortion by stealth.”

“Post-Roe, this debate must be public,” Weiner wrote.

Sen. Molly Donahue of Cedar Rapids wondered why Iowa Republicans were continuing to fight against reproductive freedom “when all polls point to” Iowans not wanting that.

“Why do you rule for extremists and [are] untruthful to the rest of [your] constituents?” she tweeted in a reply to Reynolds.

“This is a huge victory for women’s rights in Iowa —and we must continue our fight to preserve those rights,” Donahue added.

Rep. Austin Baeth of Des Moines, also a medical doctor, agreed that keeping the status quo at 20 weeks would take work amid a continued dominance of Republican-elected lawmakers.

“We need to keep organizing to ensure it stays that way,” he tweeted.

Rep. Megan Srinivas of Des Moines said she knew as a physician “that health care decisions are complicated and should be left to the individual and their medical team.”

“The majority of Iowans agree that maintaining access to reproductive health care is critical,” she tweeted, promising to “continue to fight to ensure that every Iowan gets access to the care they need and deserve.”

Rep. Sharon Steckman of Mason City pointed out the state already protects an Iowan’s right to keep their garbage private, something the justices also noted in their ruling.

“Trash constitutionally protected—as should a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions,” Steckman tweeted, referencing a quote from the opinion.



by Amie Rivers

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