Six stories: Iowans showed why reproductive rights are essential

Few political issues evoke stronger emotions than abortion. Hundreds of activists on both sides of the issue came to the state capitol on February 25, when the Iowa House held a public hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment that would make future abortion bans immune from court challenge.

More than three dozen people spoke at the hearing, some fighting back tears as they described the life experiences that led them to either support reproductive rights or advocate for restricting women’s choices.

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Advocate to Iowa House: "Constitution should never be used to do harm"

Editor’s note from Laura Belin: Connie Ryan delivered this statement at the February 25 public hearing in the Iowa House regarding a proposed constitutional amendment stating that the Iowa Constitution does not protect any right to an abortion. Bleeding Heartland previously covered that legislation here and here and will be sharing several testimonies from the hearing.

I am Connie Ryan, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Action Fund. We represent people of faith and no faith across Iowa who believe in a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions without the interference of the government.

I want to speak directly to Republican lawmakers. You are attacking the fundamental right of Iowa women to make our own healthcare decisions.

You are ignoring history and you are placing women in danger.

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Iowa House district 37 preview: John Landon vs. Andrea Phillips

State Representative John Landon filed for re-election in Iowa House district 37 on the morning of February 24, the first day candidates could submit their nominating papers at the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

I had wondered whether the four-term Republican from Ankeny might retire this year. The chair of the Administration and Regulation Appropriations subcommittee is not part of the GOP leadership team, having reportedly favored Chris Hagenow instead of Pat Grassley when the caucus voted on a new House speaker last fall.

He’ll also be facing his toughest re-election bid yet against Democrat Andrea Phillips.

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Iowa lawmakers chose corporate agriculture and factory farms again

Emma Schmit (Food & Water Action) and Ava Auen-Ryan (CCI Action): Certain Iowa leaders kept the factory farm moratorium from advancing this year, despite unprecedented support. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans kicked off 2020 with an unprecedented push to stop factory farms and address climate chaos, but this legislative session’s first deadline passed with no action. 

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Susan Christensen is least experienced Iowa chief justice in decades

Less than nineteen months after being appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court, Susan Christensen is now that body’s chief justice. Justice David Wiggins had served as acting leader on the high court since the unexpected passing of Chief Justice Mark Cady in November.

When Governor Kim Reynolds, Republican lawmakers, and one or more Supreme Court justices schemed last year to end Cady’s term early, Justice Thomas Waterman was widely seen as the chief-in-waiting. However, by the time Reynolds appointed Cady’s replacement, Dana Oxley, in late January, multiple sources indicated Waterman was no longer interested in the job. The seven justices elected Christensen on February 24.

It’s been many years since a justice has risen so quickly to the Iowa Supreme Court’s most senior position.

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