Francine Thompson’s home state has not given her a lot to celebrate lately.
“I’m a sixth-generation Iowan and I’m very proud of the state that I live in,” said Thompson, who serves as executive director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City. “But I have been disappointed by some of the most recent harmful decisions that have been hurtful for populations who already have trouble accessing health care.”
However, Thompson and other abortion advocates across Iowa are celebrating after Friday’s 3-3 Iowa Supreme Court order that keeps abortion legal up to 20 weeks throughout the state.
Thompson told Starting Line the order will not only impact the people served at the clinic but also future generations. It also ensures that the clinic continues to offer comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
“I have three granddaughters under the age of six, and I will continue to be hopeful they will live in a state where they are able to make choices about their own lives and the trajectory of their lives,” Thompson said. “This is a step in the right direction.”
The Iowa Supreme Court’s action comes 11 months after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. According to data released in May 2023, 78% of Americans believe whether women can have abortions should be left up to the woman and her doctor.
Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which covers Iowa, also welcomed Friday’s news.
“Your ZIP code shouldn’t determine who controls your uterus. Each person deserves control of their body, and Iowans have that right, based on today’s court decision,” she wrote.
Richardson noted the court’s order is an enormous win for Iowans who can control their bodies and their futures.
“Abortion bans make pregnancy more dangerous than it already is, and it shouldn’t matter which state you live in,” she wrote. “I am so proud that Planned Parenthood will continue providing abortion care in Iowa, with compassion and understanding for every single patient who walks through our doors,” he wrote.
Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, also released a statement following the ruling. In her remarks, Johnson wrote that the ruling rejected a cruel ban and was a victory for bodily autonomy and freedom.
“This case has been pivotal to the fight for abortion access throughout the region, as Iowa has served as a critical access point during the 11 months since the overturning of Roe v Wade,” she wrote. “With this ruling, thousands of patients seeking care in the state and beyond can continue to receive the necessary, life-saving care that they need.”
The Iowa Supreme Court’s order permanently upholds a lower court’s decision that Iowa’s 2018 six-week abortion ban was illegal.
Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa legal director, said the organization is overjoyed and relieved. The ACLU worked alongside Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic in the fight to maintain access to safe and legal abortion in Iowa.
“This law was dangerous, cruel, and unconstitutional when the district court blocked it four years ago, and it’s still dangerous, cruel, and unconstitutional today,” the statement said. “Many Iowans were depending on the outcome of the case today, and we are celebrating the preservation of our freedom, health, and safety.”
by Grace Katzer
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