Assault on women's autonomy leaves Iowans with a choice

Sami Scheetz represents Iowa House district 78, covering part of Cedar Rapids.

In a few short weeks, my wife and I will welcome a baby girl into our family. It’s the best feeling in the world. It’s also terrifying: as a father, I’m faced with the prospect that I’ll raise a daughter in a state where she has less freedom than her grandmother enjoyed.

Yet that’s exactly what an extreme, partisan majority on Iowa’s Supreme Court decided last week. Four unelected judges substituted their will for the will of the people of Iowa to let Governor Kim Reynolds’ and the Republican legislature’s near-total abortion ban take effect.

Like so many Iowans, I’m heartbroken, upset, and angry over the June 28 decision. I’ve heard from constituents who are wondering whether Iowa is the best place to raise their families—especially in light of Attorney General Brenna Bird’s recent appearance with extremists who vow to ban IVF treatments and contraception next, and her promise that “there is work left to be done” on this issue.

This near-total Republican abortion ban is an assault on women’s autonomy and their right to make personal health care decisions. Many women do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks, making this ban effectively a total prohibition on abortion. This law forces women and girls to carry pregnancies to term against their will, regardless of their circumstances or the potential risks to their health and well-being.

As Chief Justice Susan Christensen noted in her dissenting opinion, the law’s limited exceptions are insufficient and do not address the real-world challenges that many women face.

The right to make decisions about our lives is fundamental. The government shouldn’t be involved in our most private medical moments—when we’re faced with gut-wrenching decisions about life and death—yet that is exactly what this extreme law allows.

This is about more than just abortion: this decision applies a new standard to government regulation of our personal bodily autonomy. If the government decides we do not have the right to IVF treatments for fertility, they must now only show that there is a “rational basis” for doing so. That’s a ridiculously low bar for a government whose flag is emblazoned with the words, “our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.”

Iowa Republicans chose to have a special legislative session last year to pass one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country. The Iowa Supreme Court chose to oppose freedom and liberty for all Iowans. Now, Iowans have a choice to make in November: do we want a government that respects individual rights, or one that forces the views of the minority on the majority of our fellow citizens?

I believe Iowans will stand up for our freedoms and vote for choice. Our future depends on it.

About the Author(s)

Sami Scheetz

  • Elections have consequences

    As Sami says, the Supreme Court justices are not elected, but they were appointed by a Governor who was. And the Iowa legislature changed the structure of the judicial nominating commission for appellate judges to let the Governor appoint a majority of the commissioners to ensure that she gets her nominees.

    Furthermore, the 6-week abortion law that the court majority upheld was passed by elected legislators and signed by an elected Governor.

    And even though the judges are appointed they are on the ballot for retention periodically. The only Supreme Court justice up for retention this year is David May. He was in the majority in the abortion decision. So he can be voted off the court.

  • Women

    You do know that Reynolds is a woman right? That women support Reynolds?

  • In due time, let your daughter know

    When you and your spouse feel that your daughter is old enough to understand, sit down with her. Tell her how strongly you felt that she was disposable during the first months of her life. Tell her that you value your freedom and individual rights more than a life in the womb. You don’t even need to use the combat words of your post (assault, fundamental, gut wrenching). Just let her know, and look at her eyes.

    Until then, enjoy your baby girl.