Hundreds Of Iowans Rally To Protest New Abortion Ban Bill

Iowa protest for reproductive rights at Iowa Capitol on July 11. Photo by Starting Line staff

Hundreds packed the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday and made their voices heard to protest the abortion ban being considered by Republicans in the other room.

The latest polling shows 61% of Iowans support abortion being legal in all or most cases. While members of the Iowa Senate held a public hearing nearby, demonstrators made sure to let them know with a loud, packed rally.

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The demonstration was held by Planned Parenthood and featured health-care providers, Democratic politicians, faith leaders, and lawyers who shared their perspectives and reasons for why they oppose the special session to ban abortion.

“When a woman has a medical emergency, you want your doctor to do everything possible to save her life,” said Dr. Francesca Turner, a Des Moines OB-GYN. “You don’t want them to stop and wonder if saving this woman’s life by giving standard of care, medical care is breaking the law.”

For hours before and after the rally, demonstrators gathered in the rotunda, chanting and displaying signs to assert their right to bodily autonomy and emphasize how they don’t want those rights restricted.

The special session was called last Wednesday by Gov. Kim Reynolds and the language for the six-week abortion ban was released on Friday afternoon.

Republican legislators finalized plans in the morning to ensure the bill would make it onto Reynolds’ desk by the end of Tuesday.

One attendee at the rally said she wasn’t surprised by the fast pace or the fact that it was happening on a Tuesday.

“They know they have a majority, so they’re just going to barrel through whatever they can do,” she said. “They don’t care what people think.”

April Clark, a registered nurse, Planned Parenthood employee, and board member for the Iowa Abortion Access Fund, said she’s taken care of a lot of people who have abortions. Because of that perspective,  she’s seen up-close the decisions they make and how they get there.

To her, it doesn’t make a difference what a person’s background is, or their reason for seeking an abortion, because she maintains that it’s their fundamental right as a human being.

“I have taken care of so many of the anti-choice people who protest outside our clinics and the next week show up for their abortion because it’s okay for them, but not okay for us,” Clark said. “And the next week they’re back protesting again.

Waverly Zhao, a graduate of Johnston High School and executive director of Iowa WTF, a youth-led group encouraging young people to get involved in politics, spoke from the perspective as a frustrated young Iowan who doesn’t think the Iowa government is doing enough to protect people’s rights.

“Our legislators who have sworn to keep me safe, keep my peers and friends safe, and my family members safe, have time and time again passed laws jeopardizing the livelihoods of the already born,” she said.

Zhao said working in the Iowa Legislature as a page this session left her more disillusioned.

“I wondered how people could continue to be elected, continue to use their position for hate, and no one blinked an eye,” she said. “We know we can’t change their minds, but we can do what voters and citizens of this country do best, and that is vote them out.”


Nikoel Hytrek


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