‘Attacks On Our Rights Are Coming:’ Iowa Democrats Preview Upcoming Fight On Abortion

Iowa’s legislative Democrats don’t know what Iowa Republicans are going to do about last week’s 3-3 split from the Iowa Supreme Court that keeps abortion legal in Iowa until 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But they do know Republicans won’t stop trying to take reproductive rights away.

“What we learned from this is that there is not consensus on this issue,” said House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst. “And so we see that as an opportunity, but also a threat, a risk, because the door is open for a lot of different options.”

Konfrst, Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart held a press conference Friday about Democrats’ next steps following the permanent ban on the proposed six-week abortion ban that passed in 2018.

‘Continued attacks on our rights are coming’

Because they don’t know exactly what course Republicans will take, the Democrats said they’re mostly preparing for what Republicans will say about abortion on the floor and in public.

The Democrats emphasized how Republicans have a lot of options going forward, from holding a special session to specifically pass more abortion restrictions, all the way to changing the laws around how the judiciary operates or launching a campaign to oust the three justices who ruled not to let the law go into effect.

“[Republicans] have to find consensus within a pretty extreme caucus, within another pretty extreme caucus, and with the governor,” Konfrst said. “So their negotiations are not thinking about, ‘What do Iowans want?’ They’re thinking about what can we pass to appease the special interests.”

Trone Garriott said it’s a perfect and important opportunity for Iowans to tell their elected leaders what they won’t stand for when it comes to abortion.

“I encourage all of the folks in our state to speak out now, because we know that continued attacks on our rights are coming,” she said.

Most Iowans want to keep abortion legal

Polling has consistently shown from October 2022 that 61% of Iowans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Because Democrats are in the minority party, there isn’t much they can do to block legislation that has broad Republican support. Instead, they plan to emphasize how unpopular abortion bans are and the horrific consequences women have faced in states that have banned or significantly restricted abortion care.

“Not only has it impacted pregnant folks, the kind of care they can receive, but what their care options are in general because of who can now practice in that state, whether physicians want to be in those states,” Trone Garriott said, referring to states where OBGYNs have left because of abortion bans.

Earlier this year, House Democrats did introduce four bills to protect and expand reproductive health care in the state. Konfrst said all of those bills are still out there and ready.

“This past year has been a cautionary tale for states going too far, and it’s one that Iowa should learn from,” she said. “Iowa should be very careful about how Republicans tackle this issue, because this is not what Iowans are asking for.”

In the meantime, Democrats said they’re ready for what’s to come.

“We know they will come forward and do something. We don’t know when, we don’t know what it looks like,” Konfrst continued. “But I am very confident, based on nothing other than understanding this chamber and this building, that Republicans will not let this stand, and will come back and take away rights as soon as they can.”


Nikoel Hytrek

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