Iowa Abortion Rights Supporters Join Nationwide Protest

May 21, 2019

Abortion rights supporters rallied at the Iowa Capitol Tuesday as part of a nationwide protest against new abortion restrictions in other states.

Iowa Planned Parenthood Executive Director Erin Davison-Rippey said recently passed abortion laws in states like Alabama and Kentucky don’t just affect people in those states.

“This is an attack on each and every single one of us,” Davison-Rippey said. “It is an attack on anyone who might or can get pregnant, and anyone who stands alongside us.”

Davison-Rippey said these new laws pose a real threat to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortions performed before a fetus can survive outside the womb. Lawmakers passing far-reaching abortion restrictions have said that’s what they want.

“All women are threatened by that,” said Sarena Ramirez of Des Moines. “In other countries they have these laws, and women die because they can’t do what is right for their health care.”

This year, four states have approved what abortion rights opponents call “fetal heartbeat” laws, which ban abortions before most women know they are pregnant. The Missouri governor has a similar bill on his desk. And Alabama has a new law that makes providing an abortion at any stage a felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison.

None of these are in effect, and they are expected to all face court challenges.

Some hoped Iowa would lead the charge in reversing Roe v. Wade when Gov. Kim Reynolds approved a law last year to ban most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. But an Iowa judge struck down the law, and it was never enforced.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned at the federal level, a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling will continue to protect abortion rights in the state. Abortion rights opponents in Iowa are now trying to target that with a constitutional amendment.