# Abortion



Iowa's latest hypocrisy in the name of religion

Governor Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 2095 at a FAMiLY Leader event on April 2. Photo posted on her political Facebook page and X/Twitter feed.

Henry Jay Karp is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanuel in Davenport, Iowa, which he served from 1985 to 2017. He is the co-founder and co-convener of One Human Family QCA, a social justice organization.

Welcome back, Iowa, to the Middle Ages, when the rule of the church was as absolute as the rule of the king! The so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which Governor Kim Reynolds signed on April 2 at a Christian organization’s private dinner, is a prime example of Iowa’s legislative hypocrisy, enacted in the name of religion.

Advocates portrayed Senate File 2095 as a defense of “religious freedom”—a freedom that already was guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Article I, Section 3 of Iowa’s constitution. In reality, the legislation defends the freedom to discriminate and persecute in the name of religion.

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Iowa House and Senate Republicans are not on the same page

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley (left) and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver speak to members of the media on March 14 (photos by Laura Belin)

If you didn’t know Iowa was in the eighth year of a Republican trifecta, you might be forgiven for thinking different parties controlled the state House and Senate after watching the past week’s action.

Dozens of bills approved by one chamber failed to clear the legislature’s second “funnel” deadline on March 15. While it’s typical for some legislation to die in committee after passing one chamber, the 2024 casualties include several high-profile bills.

The chambers remain far apart on education policy, with no agreement in sight on overhauling the Area Education Agencies, which is a top priority for Governor Kim Reynolds. The legislature is more than a month late to agree on state funding per pupil for K-12 schools, which by law should have happened by February 8 (30 days after Reynolds submitted her proposed budget). The Senate Education Committee did not even convene subcommittees on a few bills House Republicans strongly supported.

House Speaker Pat Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver struck an upbeat tone when speaking to journalists on March 14. Both emphasized their ongoing conversations and opportunities for Republicans to reach agreement in the coming weeks.

But it was clear that Grassley and Whitver have very different ideas about how the legislature should approach its work.

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Iowa Republican misleads about bill threatening IVF

As the Iowa Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the near-total abortion ban Republicans enacted last year, state House and Senate Republicans are advancing several bills to further their anti-abortion agenda. The latest example is House File 2575, which rewrites the criminal statute on causing a non-consensual pregnancy loss. House members approved the bill on March 7, voting mostly along party lines.

Republican State Representative Skyler Wheeler denied during Iowa House debate that what he called a “fetal homicide” bill could jeopardize the legality of in vitro fertilization (IVF). He either doesn’t understand the plain meaning of the legislation he floor managed, or was trying to mislead the public about its potential impact.

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Brenna Bird warns YouTube to stop ‘targeting pro-life messages’

Screenshot from Alliance Defending Freedom video opposing medication abortion

Clark Kauffman is deputy editor at Iowa Capital Dispatch, where this article first appeared.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is leading a multi-state effort in demanding that YouTube remove specific abortion-related information from its site.

Bird and fifteen other Republican attorneys general wrote to YouTube this week and demanded that it remove or revise what Bird calls a “dangerous and misleading” label attached to a video that pertains to chemical abortion pills.

The label, Bird says, is “targeting pro-life messages” and contains inaccurate information that jeopardizes women’s health.

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Iowa GOP lawmakers want their politics in your kid's classroom

Ed Tibbetts, a longtime reporter and editor in the Quad-Cities, is the publisher of the Along the Mississippi newsletter, where this article first appeared. Find more of his work at edtibbetts.substack.com

Republicans in the Iowa legislature say they don’t want politics in your kid’s classroom. But that’s not true. They don’t mind politics in your kid’s classroom—as long as it’s their politics.

The proof was in full view on February 28 in the Iowa House.

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Iowa's revised abortion rules still more political than medical

The Iowa Board of Medicine has unanimously approved a new version of administrative rules related to a near-total abortion ban Republicans hope to enforce in the future.

The law, known as House File 732, is currently enjoined under a Polk County District Court order, which the state has appealed. If the Iowa Supreme Court eventually allows the ban to go into effect, the administrative rules would provide some guidance to physicians on how to approach the law’s (mostly unworkable) exceptions.

The revisions approved during a February 15 teleconference meeting address some objections physicians raised when the board discussed the rules in November and January. However, they do not change the reality that the rules don’t match how doctors normally interact with patients seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

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Voting is about values

Bill Bumgarner is a retired health care executive from northwest Iowa who worked in rural hospital management for 41 years, predominately in the State of Iowa.

The other day, just for fun, I took pencil to paper to assess the “hit rate” over the years for when my first-choice Democratic presidential candidate went on to win the party nomination.

Ugh. In ten election cycles—not counting years when there was an incumbent Democratic president—my success rate was an unimpressive 44 percent. Prior to 2016, it was an even more dismal 28 percent. Are you old enough to remember Mo Udall? 

However, my first-choice futility contributed to a better understanding over time—as I view it anyway—of what my vote represents.  

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Pay attention to how officials talk—and how they act

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird receives an award from the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association in December 2023. Photo first published on the Attorney General’s official Facebook page.

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

Voters have busy lives—families to care for, jobs demanding their attention, bills to worry about. 

So, they can be forgiven if they do not closely track their government leaders’ statements and actions. Sometimes voters may find discrepancies between what politicians say and what they do.

Here is one example:

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird was in the news last week asking Congress to replenish a federal program, the Victims of Crime Act, which assists crime victims in a variety of ways.

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Best of Bleeding Heartland's original reporting in 2023

Before Iowa politics kicks into high gear with a new legislative session and the caucuses, I want to highlight the investigative reporting, in-depth analysis, and accountability journalism published first or exclusively on this site last year.

Some newspapers, websites, and newsletters put their best original work behind a paywall for subscribers, or limit access to a set number of free articles a month. I’m committed to keeping all Bleeding Heartland content available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. That includes nearly 500 articles and commentaries from 2023 alone, and thousands more posts in archives going back to 2007.

To receive links to everything recently published here via email, subscribe to the free Evening Heartland newsletter. I also have a free Substack, which is part of the Iowa Writers Collaborative. Subscribers receive occasional cross-posts from Bleeding Heartland, as well as audio files and recaps for every episode of KHOI Radio’s “Capitol Week,” a 30-minute show about Iowa politics co-hosted by Dennis Hart and me.

I’m grateful to all readers, but especially to tipsters. Please reach out with story ideas that may be worth pursuing in 2024.

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Nine new year's wishes for a better Iowa


Ralph Rosenberg of Ames is a retired attorney, former state legislator, former director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, and former leader of statewide Iowa nonprofit organizations. He and Barbara Wheelock, also of Ames, signed this open letter on behalf of PRO Iowa 24, a group of concerned rural Iowans with progressive values from Greene, Guthrie, Boone, Story, and Dallas counties.

Now is a good time for the public to make their wishes known for 2024 state policies. Tell your legislators to act on behalf of all Iowans, create an economy that works for all Iowans, and use the government to protect the most vulnerable. Republicans can enact each and every one of these items on a bipartisan basis.

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Religion in politics: the biggest threat to our liberties

Illustration by Jena Luksetich from Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers is published with permission.

Jason Benell lives in Des Moines with his wife and two children. He is a combat veteran, former city council candidate, and president of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers.

Over the last dozen or so years in Iowa, we have seen a new assault on citizens’ rights, putting the future of our state in a precarious situation. It seems every other week there are reports and new sets of statistics tarnishing what was once a sterling record for Iowa on the well-being of its citizens. We have seen Iowa lose its destination status for those looking for an excellent public education as well as a dearth of coverage for mental health care. Iowa now ranks the worst in the country for OB/GYN coverage per capita and is consistently cited as an example of what not to do when it comes to stewardship of our waterways.

On top of these dire statistics, we are also seeing unprecedented assaults on the civil liberties of Iowans, from banning books in schools (and prompting at least two costly lawsuits because of it) to banning transgender Iowans from participating in sports to restricting the right to privacy and health care for half of the state’s population.

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A close look at Iowa's very political—not medical—proposed abortion rules

Iowa’s near-total abortion ban remains blocked by court order. But new details emerged last week about how some provisions might be enforced if the Iowa Supreme Court finds the law constitutional (as the state has requested), or lifts the temporary injunction on the ban while litigation proceeds.

One thing is clear: despite repeated references to “standard medical practice” in the document the Iowa Board of Medicine considered on November 17, the proposed abortion rules bear little resemblance to how physicians actually care for patients seeking an abortion.

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Why Iowans can't force a statewide vote on abortion rights

Ohio residents voted to add reproductive rights protections to the state constitution on November 7, passing the measure known as Issue 1 by 56.3 percent to 43.7 percent. When that language goes into effect, it will prevent enforcement of a law Ohio’s Republican trifecta enacted in 2019, which would prohibit almost all abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected.

Iowa Republican lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed a similar near-total abortion ban in July. A Polk County District Court blocked enforcement of that law, and the state has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to dissolve that injunction and uphold the law as constitutional.

Voters in Michigan, California, and Vermont approved reproductive rights constitutional amendments in 2022, and activists hope to place similar measures on the November 2024 ballot in other states, such as Arizona, Florida, Nebraska, and Missouri.

Some Bleeding Heartland readers have asked why Democrats aren’t trying to do the same in Iowa, where polls indicate a strong majority of adults believe abortion should be mostly or always legal, and the state’s partisan lean is roughly the same as Ohio’s.

The answer is simple: there is no mechanism for Iowa voters to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

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Dark money group trying to buy Des Moines mayoral race

It’s a textbook example of spending to influence an election.

A brand-new organization, “Citizens For Des Moines,” was registered with the Iowa Secretary of State on October 20. Its president, Doug Gross, is a prominent Republican attorney and major donor to city council member Connie Boesen’s mayoral campaign. The group paid to print and send at least two mass mailings attacking Boesen’s main rival in the mayoral race, which reached numerous Des Moines voters less than a week before the November 7 election.

Iowa law requires disclosure of independent expenditures that support or oppose a candidate for office, and requires political action committees to periodically report on their fundraising and spending. But Citizens For Des Moines exploited gaps in the law, so voters will be unable to find out who donated to the group or how much was spent on mail targeting city council member Josh Mandelbaum.

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Church and state: Where's the wall?

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

Senator John F. Kennedy rose to a lectern at the Rice Hotel in Houston on September 12, 1960 to face the toughest audience of his presidential campaign; a roomful of Southern Baptist ministers who reflected the longstanding antipathy of the evangelicals toward Kennedy’s Roman Catholic religion.

JFK was just the second Roman Catholic nominee of a major political party, and older Americans remembered the fate of the first. New York Governor Al Smith lost to the lackluster Herbert Hoover in 1928, amidst charges that Smith’s Catholicism would put him—and the nation—under the control of the Pope in Rome.

If Kennedy didn’t win over the skeptical Texans, his sixteen-minute address at least neutralized their hostility by avowing his support for the longstanding doctrine of separation of church and state.

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Iowa Republicans couldn't have been more wrong about defunding Planned Parenthood

When Iowa Republicans gained the trifecta following the 2016 elections, defunding Planned Parenthood was near the top of their agenda. GOP legislators promised a new state-funded family planning program would increase access to reproductive health care and give women more options, especially in rural Iowa.

The latest official data, first reported by the Des Moines Register’s Michaela Ramm, show the program has flopped. In just five years, the number of Iowans receiving services such as contraception, pregnancy tests, Pap smears, and testing or treatment for some sexually transmitted infections dropped by 90 percent compared to the population served during the last year of the previous Medicaid waiver. The number of health care providers involved is down by a staggering 97 percent.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services has done almost nothing to promote the program, even as enrollment crashed.

The reality could hardly be more different from the scenario Republicans described in 2017: “connecting folks with their home health care” for essential services by taking Planned Parenthood’s mostly urban clinics out of the equation.

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Larry McBurney, Jason Menke running in Iowa House district 44

Two Democrats are actively campaigning for a open Iowa House seat covering much of the city of Urbandale.

Urbandale City Council member and U.S. Air Force combat veteran Larry McBurney launched his campaign for House district 44 in September, soon after State Representative John Forbes, who has represented much of this area since 2013, announced he will run for Polk County supervisor in 2024.

Urbandale School Board member Jason Menke made his legislative campaign official on October 10.

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Four takeaways from Iowa Republicans' latest federal budget votes

Every member of Congress from Iowa voted on September 30 for a last-ditch effort to keep the federal government open until November 17. The continuing resolution will maintain fiscal year 2023 spending levels for the first 47 days of the 2024 federal fiscal year, plus $16 billion in disaster relief funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is the amount the Biden administration requested. In addition, the bill includes “an extension of a federal flood insurance program and reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.”

U.S. Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01), Ashley Hinson (IA-02), Zach Nunn (IA-03), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) were among the 126 House Republicans who joined 209 Democrats to approve the measure. (Ninety Republicans and one Democrat voted no.) House leaders brought the funding measure to the floor under a suspension of the rules, which meant it needed a two-thirds majority rather than the usual 50 percent plus one to pass.

Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were part of the 88-9 majority in the upper chamber that voted to send the bill to President Joe Biden just in time to avert a shutdown as the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

House members considered several other federal budget bills this week and dozens of related amendments—far too many to summarize in one article. As I watched how the Iowa delegation approached the most important votes, a few things stood out to me.

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What needs to happen for Bohannan to beat Miller-Meeks in IA-01

Photo of Christina Bohannan at the Polk County Steak Fry in September 2021 is by Greg Hauenstein and published with permission.

Christina Bohannan is hoping to join Neal Smith, Tom Harkin, and Berkley Bedell in the club of Iowa Democrats who were elected to Congress on their second attempt.

Challenging an incumbent is usually an uphill battle, and recent voting trends favor Republicans in southeast Iowa, where Bohannan is running against U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks. The Cook Partisan Voting Index for Iowa’s first Congressional district is R+3, meaning that in the last two presidential elections, voters living in the 20 counties that now make up IA-01 voted about three points more Republican than did the national electorate. The Daily Kos Elections team calculated that Donald Trump received about 50.5 percent of the 2020 presidential vote in this area, to 47.6 percent for Joe Biden.

The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate IA-01 as “likely Republican” for 2024—potentially competitive, but not among the top two or three dozen U.S. House battlegrounds across the country. Inside Elections recently moved this district to the more competitive “lean Republican” category.

That said, no one should write off this race. Miller-Meeks ran for Congress unsuccessfully three times and was considered the underdog against Democrat Rita Hart in 2020. Many factors contributed to the Republican’s six-vote win that year, and I’ve been thinking about what would need to happen for Bohannan to prevail in next year’s IA-01 rematch.

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Reflecting on the "Labor" Day impact on my patients

Dr. Emily Boevers is a Ob-Gyn physician practicing primarily in Waverly, Iowa. When not taking care of patients she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

Labor Day: a celebration of American ingenuity, prosperity and economic achievements. Like Independence Day, this holiday requires ongoing recognition and defense of the important role that citizens play in its origins. From its inception as a labor union holiday to its current position as a day for the working-class people of America, this is a day for American workers to be recognized for the sweat and stress they contribute to the modern economy.

It is estimated that the women of America supply $21 billion per day to the US economy, not including unpaid domestic labor. Part of economic wellness is also a strong supply of the next generation of skilled workers. As an expert in maternal health, I cannot help but wonder at the limited recognition of women’s complex role in this measure.

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Kim Reynolds and religion

John Kearney is a retired philosophy professor who taught at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has lived in Waterloo, Iowa for the past six years.

Governor Kim Reynolds’ position on the abortion issue seems to be inextricably linked to her religious beliefs. Prior to signing House File 732 at the Family Leadership Summit in July, she thanked the team at the Christian conservative organization The FAMiLY Leader: “You have lifted me up in prayer, grounded me in God’s word, and reminded me that He is always in control.”

Later in her prepared remarks for the bill signing, the governor said: “We read in Scripture that the Author of life wants to give ‘a future and a hope’ to all his children. Who are we to stand in his way?” 

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Nikki Haley is playing the long game

Let’s start by stating the obvious: it’s very unlikely any of the eight candidates on stage for the August 23 debate in Milwaukee will become next year’s Republican presidential nominee. All nationwide and early-state polls point to the same conclusion: most GOP voters aren’t looking for an alternative to Donald Trump. They don’t find his baggage disqualifying. He’ll be the nominee unless he is physically incapacitated between now and next summer.

With that assumption in mind, we should think about “winners” from the first Republican National Committee debate in a different way. The question isn’t who improved their chances of winning this race, but rather, who made sure they will remain relevant, both in this election cycle and in the future, when Trump won’t be on the ballot?

From that perspective, no one had a better night than former South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Here’s why:

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Sizing up a Matt Blake/Brad Zaun race in Iowa Senate district 22

UPDATE: Zaun told the Des Moines Register on October 6 that he will seek re-election in 2024. Original post follows.

A parade of presidential candidates visiting the Iowa State Fair overshadowed some important election news this week. Urbandale City Council member Matt Blake announced on August 17 that he’s running to represent Senate district 22, giving Democrats a strong contender in what will be a top-tier Iowa legislative race.

In a news release, Blake said “Iowa is not heading in the right direction,” and characterized the Republican-controlled legislature’s actions as “out of step with what Iowans want and deserve.” 

Republican State Senator Brad Zaun has represented the Urbandale area in the legislature since 2005. He has not publicly announced whether he intends to seek a sixth term in the Iowa Senate and did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s phone or email messages seeking to clarify his plans.

Whether Blake ends up competing against Zaun or in an open seat, Senate district 22 is clearly Iowa Democrats’ best opportunity to gain ground in the upper chamber. The party currently holds only sixteen of 50 districts, its smallest Iowa Senate contingent in about 50 years.

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David Young's narrow win in House district 28 cost everyone too much

Tom Walton chairs the Dallas County Democrats, was a Democratic primary candidate for Iowa House district 28 in 2022, and is an attorney.

In the 2022 election for Iowa House district 28, Republican David Young showed up again in Iowa politics, after losing Congressional races in 2018 and 2020. Young won the Iowa House seat covering parts of Dallas County by only 907 votes, after the Iowa Democratic Party spent only about a quarter as much on supporting its nominee as the Republican Party of Iowa spent on behalf of Young.

Each of those winning votes cost his campaign about $331 based on campaign finance data. All told, Young and the Republican Party spent nearly half a million dollars on his race. As this article demonstrates, his election cost everyone too much—in money spent and loss of freedoms.

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Governor turns up pressure on Iowa Supreme Court over abortion ban

Abortion became legal again in Iowa on July 17, after a Polk County District Court blocked the state from enforcing a near-total ban Governor Kim Reynolds had signed into law three days earlier.

Reynolds immediately vowed to “fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn.”

It was the latest example of Reynolds striking a defiant tone toward the jurists who will eventually decide whether the Iowa Constitution allows the government to make abortion almost impossible to obtain.

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Four ways (besides voting) to help preserve abortion access in Iowa

Iowans face more threats to their reproductive freedom now than at any time in the past 50 years.

After Governor Kim Reynolds signs House File 732 on July 14, restrictions that would prohibit an estimated 98 percent of abortions will go into effect immediately. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic, and the ACLU of Iowa have already filed a lawsuit, but there is no guarantee courts will block the law temporarily or permanently, once the case reaches the Iowa Supreme Court.

During a large rally at the capitol on July 11, many pro-choice advocates chanted “Vote them out!” State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott recalled that being present when Iowa Republicans approved a near-total abortion ban in 2018 inspired her to run for office. Organizing and volunteering for candidates who will defend reproductive rights will clearly be an essential task. And if Iowa Republican lawmakers put a constitutional amendment about abortion on the ballot next year, we’ll need all hands on deck to defeat it.

That said, you don’t need to wait until 2024 to help others avoid being forced to continue a pregnancy. So I’m updating this post with some concrete steps people can take today—or any day—to preserve abortion access in Iowa.

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The six-week abortion ban and freedom of religion

Janice Weiner is a Democratic state senator representing Iowa City and a member of the Iowa Senate State Government Committee, where Republicans ran the bill that received final approval as House File 732.

During the time-limited debate on Iowa’s six-week abortion ban on July 11, the Iowa Senate—predictably—ran out of time. You can’t say everything that truly needs to be said, argue all the inaccuracies and vague language and failures and exceptions that sound good on paper but have shown themselves, across this country, to be paper tigers, in a matter of hours.

One important argument that fell on the “time certain” cutting room floor: freedom of religion. I’ve reorganized the freedom of religion portion of my constitutional arguments speech into this article.

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My mom died because she couldn't get an abortion

Tracy Jones is a progressive political activist in Davenport. These comments are a longer version of testimony she delivered at an Iowa House public hearing on July 11 (see video below). She is pictured here on the left, speaking to State Representative Luana Stoltenberg.

In the spring of 1972, my mom was a pregnant 32-year-old with three young children. My sister was eleven years old, my brother was eight, and I was fifteen months old. Our mom had just experienced the collapse of her second marriage, and her pregnancy was not my dad’s.

I can only imagine the shame, fear and guilt that must have clung to her. Our mom was raised in a conservative and religious household. I’m certain an abortion wasn’t the first thing on her mind, but she knew her medical history. She had difficult pregnancies and suffered from severe preeclampsia with each.

As the pregnancy progressed, it became clear that this would be the pregnancy that would kill her. She needed an abortion but was living in a state where it wasn’t legal.

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Field day for the heat

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

If you’re reading this on Wednesday, July 12, you will likely find that Iowa has a new law prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. Legislators met in special session on July 11 so that Republicans could send this bill to Governor Kim Reynolds by cover of night for her to sign. Which made Tuesday’s protest at the Iowa capitol pretty much confined to letting off steam.

And steam they did. The steam was so thick, you couldn’t cut it with a chainsaw.

But what did it prove? Informal talks with folks on both sides—those carrying signs reading “No Bans,” as well as those carrying signs reading “No Murder”—only illustrated that the special session accomplished exactly what Reynolds and the Republicans wanted: to elevate the rhetoric on both sides to show the state and national media that only those in power can accomplish their aims, and rational discussion is impossible.

Walking amid the roaring crowds on the first floor, it was quite clear that strategy was working.

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Iowa's abortion ban from a disability perspective

Julie Russell-Steuart is a printmaker and activist who chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Disability Caucus. The Iowa legislature convenes on July 11 for a special session to pass a near-total abortion ban.

The disability community is one of the most impacted by the harmful and egregious proposed abortion ban. People with disabilities are more likely to have medical reasons to have an abortion that do not fit into any of the exemptions. Our medications can interfere with a successful pregnancy. We may not be physically able to carry a fetus to term, and the bill unfairly assigns that determination to medical provider, which will no doubt lead to inconsistent and life-threatening results for people with disabilities.

Like the 2018 law, the new bill contains no exception for emotional or psychological conditions or disabilities that can affect someone’s readiness to have a child—often a painful, careful personal decision. Its definition of “medical emergency” specifically excludes “the woman’s age” and “familial conditions” like access to a supportive environment in which to raise a child, or size of family.

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Consequences of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.    

More than a year has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade and Casey precedents, stripping women of a right they’d had for nearly 50 years to make their own reproductive health-care decisions. The Dobbs v. Jackson decision has affected American lives in many ways, and had some surprising consequences.

For the first time ever, a majority of Americans say abortion is morally acceptable and recent abortion laws are too strict.

For the first time in two decades, more people identify as “pro-choice” versus pro-life.”

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Moves to impeach justices would undermine Iowa courts

Bernard L. Spaeth, Jr. is chair of the Iowa State Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Iowa State Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers condemns impeachment threats made against Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen and Justices Thomas Waterman and Edward Mansfield arising from their decision in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, et al, v. Reynolds, No. 22-2036 (Iowa Supreme Court, June 16, 2023).

The justices voted to uphold a lower court decision that refused to vacate a four-year old injunction against the 2018 fetal heartbeat bill without new abortion legislation. The Sunday Des Moines Register on July 2 included a guest column from Bob Vander Plaats who argued their judicial act constitutes a “misdemeanor or malfeasance in office” under the Iowa constitution allowing the legislature to impeach and remove them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Iowa GOP lawmakers to pass new abortion ban on July 11

UPDATE: The bill text was published on the legislature’s website on July 7. It closely matches the 2018 law, which would ban most abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Original post follows.

Governor Kim Reynolds has called a special session of the Iowa legislature for July 11, “with the sole purpose of enacting” new abortion restrictions. The move suggests Republicans will approve something comparable to the 2018 law that would ban almost all abortions after about six weeks, with very limited exceptions, rather than a total ban preferred by some GOP lawmakers.

The Iowa Senate approved the 2018 abortion ban along party lines. Of the six Iowa House Republicans who voted against that legislation, only one (State Representative Jane Bloomingdale) still serves in the legislature. Most of the 64 current House Republicans had not yet been elected to the body during the 2018 session. However, I expect nearly all of them will support a six-week ban, as will their Senate GOP colleagues.

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How about actually helping Iowans?

Janice Weiner is a Democratic state senator representing Iowa City and a member of the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee.

With the ink barely dry on the Iowa Supreme Court’s split decision on the 6-week abortion ban, the Iowa legislature already seems headed for a special session.

For perspective, the ban that has been permanently enjoined passed in 2018, in a very different legal environment. All Republicans who voted for it knew it was unconstitutional and would never go into effect. It was a political nod to the extremists in their base.

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In today's culture war, Iowa is 1950s Ireland

Chuck Holden was born and raised in Iowa and is a history professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

As readers of Bleeding Heartland know all too well, there are no signs that the hard-right GOP governing the state will stop its drastic reshaping of law and culture. Iowa, it appears, is competing with states like Texas and Florida for the title of most reactionary. But due to their size and much more diverse populations, Texas and Florida do not serve as good comparisons for a state like Iowa. Rather, Ireland in the mid-1900s, nearly all white and all conservative Christian, does.

The vision of Iowa that the state’s Republican leadership seems to have in mind is remarkably similar to that of the long-time Irish leader Éamon de Valera’s from the 1930s through the 1980s: lands of sturdy farms and humble, god-fearing families where “traditional” is worn as a badge of pride. But underneath the wholesome image one finds punitive regimes ever-alert to threats real or imagined of an encroaching modern world.

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What we learned from Iowa Supreme Court's non-decision on abortion

The most closely watched Iowa Supreme Court case of 2023 ended in a stalemate on June 16. Nearly a year to the day after the court’s majority severely undermined reproductive rights by reversing a 2018 precedent, the justices split 3-3 on Governor Kim Reynolds’ effort to lift an injunction on a 2018 law that would ban an estimated 98 percent of abortions.

The split decision in what will be known as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v Reynolds V affirmed last year’s Polk County District Court ruling “by operation of law.” In other words, the 2018 abortion ban will be permanently enjoined. For the foreseeable future, abortion will remain legal up to 20 weeks in Iowa—in contrast to many other Republican-controlled states.

But top Iowa Republicans have vowed to enact new abortion restrictions, which will prompt new litigation. Although the opinions published on June 16 have no force of law, they provide many clues about how the Iowa Supreme Court may approach its next major abortion case.

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Why Iowa Republicans may struggle to agree on new abortion ban

Top Iowa Republicans reacted quickly on June 16 after the Iowa Supreme Court’s split decision kept abortion legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks.

In a joint news release, Governor Kim Reynolds, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, and House Speaker Pat Grassley promised to work together on what they called “pro-life policies to protect the unborn.” But they did not indicate whether a new law might differ from the near-total abortion ban passed in 2018, which remains permanently enjoined after the Supreme Court deadlock.

The statements also did not clarify whether Republicans plan to convene a special legislative session before lawmakers are scheduled to return to Des Moines next January. Communications staff working for the governor and House and Senate leaders did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s questions.

Any new abortion ban would be challenged immediately, and two years might pass before the Iowa Supreme Court rules on whether that law violates the state constitution. So anti-abortion advocates will want the legislature and governor to start the process sooner rather than later.

But even with the large House and Senate majorities Iowa Republicans now enjoy, it may not be easy to draft a bill that can get through both chambers.

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Luana Stoltenberg's first legislative session in review

Alexandra Dermody is a Davenport based Gen Z activist, nonprofit director, and small business owner who lives in Iowa House district 81.

Luana Stoltenberg, a Republican who traveled to Washington, DC for Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, has completed her first legislative session as the representative for House District 81.

While she presents herself as a pro-life activist and author, it is essential to examine her legislative record and consider the implications of her key votes and sponsored bills.

Let’s take a closer look at Stoltenberg’s voting history:

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Opposing Luana Stoltenberg: Fighting for a better Iowa

Alexandra Dermody is a Davenport based Gen Z activist, nonprofit director, and small business owner who lives in Iowa House district 81.

Republican State Representative Luana Stoltenberg of Davenport has completed her first legislative session as the member from House District 81, covering part of Davenport. As a staunch social conservative with a troubling track record—including traveling to Washington, DC for Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021—Stoltenberg’s bid for office warrants a strong opposition.

Here are the reasons voters should replace her next year:

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Why Walgreens may decide whether you can access reproductive care

Scott Syroka is a former Johnston city council member.

Does anyone remember voting for Rosalind Brewer? That’s the Walgreens CEO with the power to decide what kind of health care millions of Americans, including countless Iowans, get to access. The latest battle over reproductive rights shows us how.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was hitting pause on an early April decision by Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk to suspend approval of mifepristone previously granted by the Food and Drug Administration more than two decades ago.

If you’re not familiar yet, mifepristone is a safe and commonly used pill in abortion care. It can also be used to treat medical conditions like uterine fibroids (noncancerous growths in the uterus) as well as Cushing syndrome, a condition caused by prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, pundits argued this meant that access to mifepristone would continue to be available to all Americans. Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, went as far as to say, “…nothing is going to change with respect to mifepristone access until and unless the court both takes the case on the merits and sides with the challengers.”

But that statement is not true. Access to mifepristone was already restricted for millions of Americans prior to Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision, so the Supreme Court’s stay on his ruling only prolongs a status quo of continued restrictions for too many. Corporate monopolies like Walgreens are the reason why.

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Governor entered private Iowa Supreme Court area—without permission

Governor Kim Reynolds, her staff, and security detail used a non-public elevator and “walked down the secure hallway” where Iowa Supreme Court justices have private offices before attending the April 11 oral arguments in a major abortion-related case.

“Neither the justices, supreme court staff, or Judicial Branch Building security knew or gave permission for the governor or Iowa State Highway Patrol to access the supreme court’s non-public office space” at that time, according to Molly Kottmeyer, counsel to Chief Justice Susan Christensen.

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Iowa AG halted Plan B, abortion payments for sexual assault victims

The Iowa Attorney General’s office is not currently covering the cost of emergency contraception or abortions for Iowans who are victims of rape or sexual assault, Natalie Krebs reported for Iowa Public Radio on April 7.

Iowa law requires the state’s victim compensation fund to pay for a sexual assault victim’s medical examination “for the purpose of gathering evidence,” as well as any treatment “for the purpose of preventing venereal disease.” Under longtime Attorney General Tom Miller, that fund also covered the cost of abortion services or Plan B, medication that prevents ovulation and therefore pregnancy if administered soon enough following unprotected sex.

In a statement provided to Iowa Public Radio, spokesperson Alyssa Brouillet said Attorney General Brenna Bird “is carefully evaluating whether this is an appropriate use of public funds” as part of a broader review of victim assistance programs. Payment of “pending claims will be delayed” until Bird completes her review.

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Is Brad Zaun repeating Jake Chapman's mistake?

Six of Iowa’s 34 Republican state senators introduced a resolution this week urging the federal government “to investigate and arrest” officials running the Washington, DC jail where some involved in the January 6 attack on the Capitol are being held pending trial. Senate Resolution 8 characterizes conditions at the jail as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment” and akin to “the most notorious concentration camps of World War II, the gulags of the former Soviet Union, the prison camps of Communist China, and the torture camps of North Korea.”

Five of the six senators who co-sponsored this resolution represent solidly Republican districts, where Donald Trump received more than 60 percent of the vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Then there’s Brad Zaun.

It’s the latest sign Zaun is not moderating his behavior to reflect the mostly-suburban Senate district 22, where he is expected to seek re-election next year. That’s a risky approach for the five-term Republican from Urbandale, given that voters in Senate district 14 sent the arch-conservative Senate President Jake Chapman packing in 2022.

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Ernst seeks to block abortion access for military service members

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is the lead sponsor of a bill that would block a new Pentagon policy designed to expand service members’ access to abortion care.

The Defense Department has long covered abortions if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if continuing the pregnancy would endanger the mother’s life. The policy announced last month affects “non-covered” reproductive care, including abortion and various fertility treatments. Haley Britzky and Oren Liebermann reported for CNN on February 16,

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Walgreens assures Iowa AG it won't dispense abortion medication here

The major pharmacy chain Walgreens has informed Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird that the company will not dispense a drug commonly used for medication abortions and miscarriage care in the state. Walgreens operates 72 stores in Iowa, according to the company’s website.

Last month, Bird and other Republican attorneys general co-signed a letter warning Walgreens that “federal law expressly prohibits using the mail to send or receive any drug that will ‘be used or applied for producing abortion.’”

Alice Miranda Ollstein reported for Politico on March 2 that Walgreens “has since responded to all the officials, assuring them that they will not dispense abortion pills either by mail or at their brick-and-mortar locations in those states.”

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Brenna Bird quietly pursues extreme anti-abortion agenda

The Iowa Attorney General’s office has issued statements touting several legal actions by Attorney General Brenna Bird, seeking to block various federal regulations.

But when Bird joined a multi-state effort on February 10 to cut off access nationwide to mifepristone, a widely used drug for medication abortions and treatment of first-trimester miscarriages, her office did not announce the decision. Nor has it publicized letters Bird and other Republican attorneys general signed this month, warning at least three corporations about policies or practices related to abortion.

Communications staff for Bird and Governor Kim Reynolds did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about the legal moves. Bird has long said she is “pro-life,” and immediately after taking office pledged to “defend Iowa’s statutes, especially those protecting innocent unborn babies.” But Iowa law permits abortions up to 20 weeks and does not restrict the use of mifepristone.

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Court rejects every argument for reinstating Iowa's 2018 abortion ban

A Polk County District Court has denied the state’s request to lift a permanent injunction on a 2018 law that would ban most abortions in Iowa.

Judge Celene Gogerty had asked skeptical questions of both sides during a hearing in late October. But her December 12 ruling agreed with key legal arguments the ACLU of Iowa made on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. The judge comprehensively rejected points private attorneys raised on behalf of Governor Kim Reynolds.

Reynolds immediately pledged to appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court, which will likely hear the case next year. Although some justices have signaled they might uphold sweeping abortion bans, Gogerty’s decision gives the justices several ways to determine that this case is not the vehicle for reaching that outcome.

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Fourteen Iowa Senate races to watch on election night 2022

Editor’s note: This analysis has been updated with unofficial results from all the races. Original post follows.

The major parties have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the most competitive 2022 Iowa House and Senate races.

This post highlights seven state Senate districts where one or both parties have spent large sums, and another seven where even without a big investment by Democrats or Republicans, the results could shed light on political trends.

All voter registration totals listed below come from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, as reported on November 1. All absentee ballot figures come from the Secretary of State’s office, as reported on November 7. All past election results come from the map Josh Hughes created in Dave’s Redistricting App.

All figures for in-kind spending by the Iowa Democratic Party or Republican Party of Iowa come from filings with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. I focus on in-kind spending, because candidates in battleground Iowa legislative races typically give most of their funds to the state party. The party then covers the bulk of the large expenditures for direct mail and/or television, radio, and digital advertising.

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Senate Democrats are running ahead of Biden. Will it be enough?

Dan Guild is a lawyer and project manager who lives in New Hampshire. In addition to writing for Bleeding Heartland, he has written for CNN and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, most recently here. He also contributed to the Washington Post’s 2020 primary simulations. Follow him on Twitter @dcg1114.

This post will present the state of play in the U.S. Senate races as of November 4. The data includes all polling available at 7:00 am Eastern; polls are released so frequently that it is impossible to analyze the situation without stopping.

Before we get to the survey numbers, though, we need to consider the environment in which these elections are taking place.

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How Iowa Supreme Court's McDermott, Oxley have decided big cases

Disclosure: I am a plaintiff in an open records lawsuit that is pending before the Iowa Supreme Court on interlocutory appeal. (The governor’s office appealed a lower court ruling against the state’s motion to dismiss our case.) That litigation has nothing to do with this post.

On the back side of Iowa’s general election ballot, voters have a chance to vote yes or no on allowing two Iowa Supreme Court justices, two Iowa Court of Appeals judges, and dozens of lower court judges to remain on the bench.

No organizations are campaigning or spending money against retaining Justices Dana Oxley and Matthew McDermott, whom Governor Kim Reynolds appointed in 2020.

Nevertheless, I expect the justices to receive a lower share of the retention vote than most of their predecessors. Shortly after the newest justices were part of a controversial ruling on abortion in June, the Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom found a partisan split in attitudes toward the Iowa Supreme Court, with a significant share of Democrats and independents disapproving of the court’s work.

This post seeks to provide context on how the justices up for retention have approached Iowa Supreme Court decisions that may particularly interest Bleeding Heartland readers.

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Eight revealing exchanges from the Reynolds/DeJear debate

You have to hand it to Deidre DeJear.

Governor Kim Reynolds has all the advantages of incumbency. She has spent most of the year avoiding unscripted questions and taking credit for projects that President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress made possible. While the challenger has struggled to get her message in front of voters, Reynolds enjoys free media coverage almost daily and has blanketed the state with (sometimes racist) television commercials for the past six weeks.

The day before the only scheduled debate between the candidates for governor—Reynolds would not agree to the traditional three—the Des Moines Register published a new Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co showing the incumbent ahead by 52 percent to 35 percent among likely voters.

In other words, the odds facing DeJear could hardly be longer.

Nevertheless, the challenger spoke with clarity and confidence throughout the hour-long “Iowa Press” appearance, using facts and personal stories to great effect. She refused to take the bait when Reynolds fell back on divisive talking points about what “they” (Democrats) supposedly want to do.

I hope voters will take the time to watch the whole program, or read the transcript on the Iowa PBS site. Eight exchanges struck me as particularly revealing.

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Iowa Republicans call Democrats extreme on abortion. Will voters buy it?

Republicans seeking Iowa’s federal offices take some important advantages into the November election. Most are incumbents with more money to spend than their challengers. Recent history suggests midterms favor the party out of power in Washington, and President Joe Biden has low approval numbers in Iowa.

One wild card complicates the equation for GOP candidates here, as in many other states. Republicans are on record supporting near-total abortion bans, while a majority of voters favor keeping abortion mostly legal.

Republican campaign messaging has emphasized other topics, such as inflation, taxes, or unpopular Washington politicians. When they can’t avoid talking about abortion, Republicans have claimed their Democratic opponents are the real extremists on the issue.

Several races may hinge on whether moderate voters buy into that distortion of the facts.

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Vote Shaimaa Aly in a critical down-ballot race

Tim Nelson is a Democratic activist based in Polk County.

Broadlawns Medical Center, the public hospital in Polk County, Iowa, doesn’t provide elective abortions. But the hospital’s staff do perform medically necessary, life saving abortions.

As a public hospital, Broadlawns has elected trustees, unlike private hospitals.

This means we choose the members of the Broadlawns Board of Trustees.

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ACLU dismantles state's case for reinstating 2018 abortion ban

The ACLU of Iowa filed new legal arguments last week in Iowa’s most important pending abortion rights case. Governor Kim Reynolds is seeking to reinstate a near-total abortion ban, which a Polk County District Court found unconstitutional in 2019.

Last month, private attorneys representing the state in this litigation (since Attorney General Tom Miller declined to do so) gave the District Court one big reason to lift the permanent injunction on a 2018 law that would ban almost all abortions after about six weeks.

In a response brief filed on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the ACLU gave the District Court several paths to reject the state’s request.

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Iowa House Democrats endorse legal weed

One of these things is not like the others.

Three parts of the Iowa House Democrats’ “People over Politics” agenda will sound familiar to anyone who has followed legislative debates over the past decade. The minority party, which now holds 40 of the 100 House seats, will fight to raise wages and lower costs for essentials like housing and child care, protect reproductive freedom, and invest more resources in public schools.

The fourth part of the Democrats’ campaign platform is new: for the first time, an Iowa legislative caucus advocates legalizing adult use of marijuana.

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Iowa media let Grassley, Ernst dodge on nationwide abortion ban

Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced companion bills this week that would ban abortion nationally after 15 weeks, with few exceptions.

The three Republicans representing Iowa in the lower chamber—Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04)—all co-sponsored the national abortion ban on the day the bill was introduced.

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst dodged questions about whether they would support their colleague’s bill. And leading Iowa news organizations gave them exactly the coverage they wanted.

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I hate door knocking

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere. 

I hate door knocking. I’m not an extrovert; bothering people in their homes isn’t my thing. But our democracy is dear to me and I know I need to do everything I can to preserve it.  

So Sunday afternoon, door knock I did. My list consisted of 26 Democratic doors (households) with 39 voters. No one answered at fifteen of those doors, so I left Democratic campaign literature and my flyer describing ways to vote and offering my help. I’ll follow up with texts where I have a number.  

I asked those with whom I did speak what their most important issue was for November. The plurality answer was some form of abortion/Roe/women’s rights. 

Schools was second: “Don’t defund our schools.” “Reynolds is mutilating public schools.”  

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Two months out: A remade race in the aftermath of Dobbs

Dan Guild is a lawyer and project manager who lives in New Hampshire. In addition to writing for Bleeding Heartland, he has written for CNN and Sabato’s Crystal Ball. He also contributed to the Washington Post’s 2020 primary simulations. Follow him on Twitter @dcg1114.

The U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24. Overturning Roe v Wade caused a political earthquake.

I created this table to show the magnitude of the change in the generic ballot (which asks voters whether they plan to support a Democrat or a Republican for Congress). My averages differ from sites like FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, because I compare results across time from each pollster, rather than averaging all polls at a point in time. (I will explain why this matters at the end of this article.)

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Governor discounts pregnant Iowans' well-being. Will Supreme Court agree?

Lawyers representing Governor Kim Reynolds have taken the first step toward reinstating a 2018 law that would ban nearly all abortions in Iowa. A Polk County District Court struck down that law in 2019, and Reynolds did not appeal the decision. A motion filed on August 11 asks the court to lift the permanent injunction, which was founded on Iowa and U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have since been reversed.

In a written statement amplified on her social media, Reynolds promised, “As long as I’m Governor, I will stand up for the sanctity of life and fight to protect the precious and innocent unborn lives.”

Left unsaid by the governor, but made clear by the legal brief her team filed: pregnant Iowans’ interests have almost no value in the eyes of the state.

Will four Iowa Supreme Court justices balance competing concerns the same way?

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Legal analysis: The state's case for reinstating Iowa's abortion ban

Bill from White Plains is an Iowa attorney with a specific interest in constitutional law and civil liberties.

Who’s more important: 51 percent of the populace of Iowa or, Iowa’s Republican-controlled government?

That is the question raised by the motion a partisan think tank filed in Polk County District Court on August 11. The Kirkwood Institute and the Alliance Defending Freedom are representing Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Board of Medicine, after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller declined to lead the state’s effort to reinstate a near-total abortion ban.

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Tactical retreat on Iowa's abortion waiting period averts strategic loss

The ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood North Central States announced on August 5 that they will not pursue litigation challenging Iowa’s mandatory 24-hour waiting period before all abortions. The Iowa Supreme Court allowed that 2020 law to go into effect in June, when a 5-2 majority reversed the court’s abortion rights precedent and sent Planned Parenthood’s case back to District Court.

In a written statement, ACLU of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis Austen described the decision to dismiss the case as “extremely difficult.”

But the move was wise in light of Iowa’s current legal landscape. Dropping this challenge could push back by years any ruling by the conservative-dominated Iowa Supreme Court to establish a new legal standard for reviewing abortion restrictions. That could strengthen the position of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU as they fight grave threats to Iowans’ bodily autonomy.

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Four takeaways for Iowa from the pro-choice vote in Kansas

In a huge victory for bodily autonomy, Kansas voters on August 2 overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have cleared a path for Republican lawmakers to ban abortion. With about 95 percent of votes counted, the “no” vote (against removing abortion protections from the Kansas constitution) led the “yes” vote by 58.8 percent to 41.2 percent.

Iowa Democrats and Republicans should pay attention to the results.

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Joni Ernst leads Senate opposition to contraception rights bill

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has blocked a Democratic bill that would provide a federal guarantee of contraception rights.

Democrats sought to pass the bill, which cleared the U.S. House mostly along party lines, via unanimous consent during Senate floor debate on July 27.

Ernst rose to object and advocated for a measure that would speed up an over-the-counter designation for oral contraception pills. The bill is a companion to a bill that U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson introduced in the House last week. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Senator Chuck Grassley are co-sponsoring the measure.

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Separating the ethic from the dogma

Richard Lindgren is Emeritus Professor of Business at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, now retired in Gulf Coast Florida. He blogs at godplaysdice.com.

A Kentucky circuit court recently granted a temporary injunction to halt the implementation of Kentucky’s “trigger law” that would ban abortion in response to the recent Dobbs Supreme Court decision. The judge spelled out perhaps the clearest rationale to date why the most extreme of the anti-abortion laws are blatantly unconstitutional according to the Kentucky state constitution (regardless of what the current Supreme Court says):

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My body, my choice

Addison Roland is an elementary school teacher in Des Moines.

It was late winter of 2005. I had recently moved back to the Chicago area from Seattle, Washington. I was single and an orphan. My parents had died not long ago, and I was still grieving for them, when I found my 39-year-old self pregnant—for the first time!

I always thought I was sterile. I was dating a man whom I did not want to marry, but we both decided to go ahead with the pregnancy. I thought this was a miracle, and just what I need to get myself back into the game of life. I had a big circle of girlfriends and knew they would help me through the pregnancy and being a first-time mom.

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Cartoon: SCOTUS-induced Tragic Prelude 2.0

William R. Staplin shares another cartoon and explains his artistic choices.

I was inspired to draw this cartoon because of the egregious decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to overturn a 49 year-old precedent, Roe v. Wade. The majority abandoned pregnant Americans’ right to choose safe health care outcomes, including abortion.

I fashioned this cartoon in the same style as a famous work from the American Regionalist Movement (or American Regionalism Movement). The master artist was John Steuart Curry and he painted the politically controversial mural, “Tragic Prelude, (1940).”

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Democrats gain after Dobbs

Dan Guild: Seven of eight nationwide polls taken since the Dobbs opinion was released showed higher support for Democrats since the prior survey from the same pollster.

I hope to write more about generic ballot polling in detail, but for now I want to write about the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and the 2022 election. To date, eight nationwide polls have been completed since the court released the Dobbs opinion on June 24.

When analyzing how an event affected public opinion, it is important to compare surveys from the same pollster over time. This table summarizes each and highlights the change.

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We must not go back

Mary Weaver is a former public health nurse administrator and farm wife who lives near the small town of Rippey, approximately 30 miles west of Ames.

As the newly elected chair of the Women’s Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party, I am incredibly concerned over recent decisions by the Iowa Supreme Court, which overturned a precedent protecting abortion rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

Those of us who remember life prior to 1973 vowed to never go back to a time when women did not control our own health care choices. The Dobbs decision will cause rights to be lost that women age 60 and older worked to establish. We thought we had guaranteed bodily autonomy for our daughters and granddaughters as well as for ourselves. 

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Reynolds seeks legal do-over to reinstate 2018 abortion ban

Governor Kim Reynolds announced on June 28 that she will seek to lift an injunction on a 2018 law that would have banned almost all abortions in Iowa. After that law was struck down in early 2019, Reynolds opted not to appeal the decision, due to an Iowa Supreme Court precedent that is no longer operative.

The governor will also ask the Iowa Supreme Court to rehear a recently-decided abortion case, taking into account the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion that overturned the Roe v Wade and Casey precedents.

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How far can Iowa Republicans go to ban abortion? (updated)

The worst-case scenario for bodily autonomy in Iowa played out over the past ten days. First, the Iowa Supreme Court on June 17 overturned its own 2018 precedent that established a fundamental right to abortion, protected by the state constitution. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that established a federal constitutional right to an abortion, and the related Casey decision of 1992.

Top Iowa Republicans immediately promised further action to restrict abortion, which is now legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It’s not yet clear when they will try to pass a new law, which exceptions (if any) may be on the table, or whether a ban modeled on other state laws could survive an Iowa court challenge.

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How did we get here? An analysis of the Dobbs decision

Bleeding Heartland user “Bill from White Plains” is an Iowa attorney.

Now that five U.S. Supreme Court justices have overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent when deciding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I thought it might be helpful to do a deep dive into the legal bases for that decision. Most folks see this as a “results-oriented” ruling, “judicial activism” done by “unelected judges” superseding “the will of the people.”

As with most Supreme Court cases, the popular press has focused on the result (ending any federal constitutional right to an abortion), rather than the legal framework. More often than not, our discourse parrots what we read and hear from the media. It is important to learn how the Supreme Court majority reached this outcome, because for the rest of our lives, that legal framework may impact civil rights most of us have taken for granted for decades.

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Iowa Supreme Court's abortion reversal may cast long shadow

Five Iowa Supreme Court justices allowed a 24-hour waiting period for all abortions to go into effect and opened the door to more sweeping restrictions on June 17, when justices overturned the court’s 2018 precedent that had found the Iowa Constitution protects a fundamental right to seek an abortion.

The outcome is precisely what Republican legislators were seeking two years ago, when (buoyed by unusually rapid turnover on Iowa’s highest court) they passed a law nearly identical to the one struck down in the 2018 case.

Two dissenting justices warned that the latest decision injects “instability” and “confusion” into Iowa’s legal landscape, because the court’s majority did not establish a new standard for evaluating the constitutionality of abortion restrictions. Two justices signaled they would allow almost any limits on the procedure. Three justices indicated they might be open to a similar approach, or might strike a different balance that recognizes some bodily autonomy for Iowans wanting to terminate a pregnancy.

In the words of Justice Brent Appel, the majority set forth “a jurisprudence of doubt about a liberty interest of the highest possible importance to every Iowa woman of reproductive age.”

The ruling may also undermine public confidence that Iowa Supreme Court rulings are grounded in legal analysis, rather than politics.

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Why I’m supporting Grace Van Cleave for Iowa Senate district 17

Jamie Burch Elliott is a former director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood in Iowa.

I support pro-choice fighter Grace Van Cleave in the June 7 Democratic primary to represent Iowa Senate district 17 because we need her. Beyond that, she’s my friend. So, I’d like to tell you a little bit about her, and to ask you to vote for her in Tuesday’s primary. 

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Franken will advocate for women's rights, human rights in the Senate

Bonnie Campbell is former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, former Attorney General of Iowa, and Inaugural Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the U. S. Department of Justice.

History is calling us to action.

Seventy percent of Americans oppose the overturn of Roe v. Wade –a basic right for women in this country for nearly 50 years. Sadly, Senator Chuck Grassley is not one of them.

If the U. S. Supreme Court makes the dangerous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, it will be a blow to our democracy so forceful that it will threaten the future of this country and the rights of every citizen.

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Grace Van Cleave for Iowa Senate district 17: We need fighters now

Jack Hatch represented part of Des Moines in the Iowa Senate and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor.

Grace Van Cleave has done a great job with her campaign to “Give Choice a Voice.” Iowans’ basic human right to exercise our own reproductive health care decisions is under the gravest threat in 50 years. We have an Iowa Supreme Court case pending, and a state constitutional amendment designed to clear a path for banning abortion may appear on a statewide ballot soon. After that, there may be no right to choose in Iowa. 

Who will represent us in this huge battle that’s coming?

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Iowa Republicans fund anti-abortion clinics but not proven maternal health solutions

Iowa’s health and human services budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $500,000 appropriation for a new “maternal health” initiative modeled on an ineffective, wasteful Texas program.

But the bill, negotiated by House and Senate Republicans and approved on party-line votes in both chambers May 23, does not extend postpartum coverage for Iowans on Medicaid, a documented way to reduce maternal mortality.

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Introducing Michael Andreski, Democrat running in Iowa House District 31

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for Democratic candidates in competitive primaries for local, state, or federal offices. Please read these guidelines and contact Laura Belin if you are interested in writing.

I want to introduce myself to the readers of Bleeding Heartland. I am Michael Andreski, a Democratic candidate in district 31 of the Iowa House of Representatives.

Why am I running for this office? The short answer is because the opportunity was there, and I was encouraged by several people, including Democratic State Representative John Forbes of Urbandale.

But the long answer is that as a fifth-generation Iowan, I could no long sit on the sidelines and see the state where I was born, raised, educated, started a career, and raised a family continue to become a place I no longer recognize as the Iowa I know and love.

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Shannon Henson has the skills and character to lead

Dr. Andy McGuire is a resident of Iowa House District 36, longtime health care advocate, former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, and member of the Board of Trustees at Broadlawns.

We’re faced with an embarrassment of riches this year in House District 36 with six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. As a former Iowa Democratic Party chair, I know it can be tough to choose in a primary when all the candidates support a progressive agenda, care about values I hold dear, and are my friends.

But when I think about where we are right now, and all that is at stake – from a full-scale reversal of reproductive freedom, to the ongoing effort to undermine our public schools – I keep returning to one question: which candidate is most equipped and prepared to fight back and get results for Iowans?

I believe Shannon Henson is the right leader for state House district 36.

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Cindy Axne should withdraw her racist police bill

Jaylen Cavil and Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz co-authored this commentary. Cavil is a Democratic candidate in Iowa House district 36. Murguia-Ortiz is an independent candidate in Iowa Senate district 17.

Dog whistles have been a feature of U.S. politics for decades. President Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens,” President Bill Clinton’s “law and order” campaign, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calling Barack Obama a “food stamps president” are all examples of racist talking points. Politicians use coded language when trying to garner support by triggering racial anxiety. 

Today’s version of the “war on crime”—a reaction to nationwide calls to defund the police and fund communities instead—is no different from the racist wars on drugs and poverty that have led to the incarceration and deaths of millions.

With the introduction of the Invest to Protect Act, U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (D, IA-03) and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley have joined forces to re-employ this dog whistle strategy.

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Abby Finkenauer can build a winning coalition

Mary Jo Riesberg chairs the Lee County Democratic Party.

Abby Finkenauer is the Democrat who can defeat U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Many factors make her candidacy not only stronger than the other Senate candidates, but one that can offer a boost to those down ballot.

She will represent Iowans as we sit at our kitchen tables discussing the struggles we face in our day-to-day lives. She will be the senator we need to help Iowa and the United States adjust to the “new normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare for the many changes needed for the future.

No matter how much people say they are ready to have Grassley out of office, it will still require a coalition of voters to defeat him.

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Supreme Court overthrow of Roe would change motherhood

Sue Dinsdale leads Health Care For America NOW in Iowa.

Mother’s Day was a reminder that motherhood can be both challenging and rewarding, but the right support systems can help make things easier and give mothers and their families healthier, happier lives. Our country’s mothers deserve to have resources, rights, and opportunities to stay healthy, take care of their families, and ensure they can determine their own destinies—whether that’s what zip code to live in or when to expand their families. 

leaked draft Supreme Court decision indicates that the court is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion. For nearly 50 years, the precedent enabled people to decide for themselves if and when to become mothers.

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Regulating health care

Sondra Feldstein is a farmer and business owner in Polk County.

It’s conventional wisdom that Roe v Wade was a poorly written judicial decision. Not the first, nor the last.

I’m not a constitutional law scholar and I can’t say whether the weight of precedent should counteract the weakness of a poorly reasoned opinion. But each and every one of the conservative justices who can be expected to concur with the draft opinion overturning Roe assured senators during their confirmation hearing that the 1973 precedent was settled law, and that the principle of stare decisis carries such grave weight that the prospect of overturning “settled law” was unlikely.

But then, for anyone who believed what those potential justices said, I have the proverbial bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It just isn’t relevant to ask whether future justices lied under oath, because everyone knew they were lying. It’s a game we play.

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Four ways (besides voting) to help preserve abortion access

It’s been a rough week for abortion rights advocates. Many of my own friends, relatives, and acquaintances feel helpless and hopeless in the face of Roe v Wade‘s likely demise. These people don’t need to be reminded to vote. But voting for Democrats hasn’t stopped the rollback of reproductive rights. Anyway, the next opportunity to vote for pro-choice candidates is six months away.

If you believe no one should be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy, here are some concrete ways to help keep abortion available for those who need the procedure.

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Joni Ernst strangely quiet about post-Roe plans

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has said little publicly about abortion since Politico published a draft opinion indicating that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the Roe v Wade and Casey precedents. The topic wasn’t mentioned in any of the seven press releases her office has published since the news broke on May 2.

Speaking to the conservative network Newsmax the morning after Politico published the draft opinion, Ernst and her interviewer focused on the leak (which the senator described as “absolutely abhorrent”). They did not discuss how Republicans in Congress would respond to a decision sweeping away rights women have enjoyed for nearly five decades.

But according to an article by a well-sourced reporter, Ernst has been part of closed-door talks on the best way to ban abortion nationwide.

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Planned Parenthood in Iowa's region preparing for post-Roe reality

The Planned Parenthood affiliate that includes Iowa is preparing for an influx of patients seeking abortions from states where the procedure may soon be banned.

Since 2018, Iowa has been part of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which also provides reproductive health care services in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Both of the Dakotas have enacted “trigger” laws, which would immediately ban abortion as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade precedent. An effort to pass a similar law in Nebraska failed last month, but proponents have vowed to try again later this year.

Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States, told reporters during a May 3 news conference that the organization’s regional and national leaders have long “been planning for this worst-case scenario.”

She promised, “We’re going to be here for the long haul, and we’re going to fight to make sure that this is accessible to everybody.”

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What could happen in Iowa after Roe is overturned

Five U.S. Supreme Court justices will soon overturn the Roe v Wade and Casey decisions, according to a draft majority opinion obtained by Politico. Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward published excerpts from the draft, which author Justice Samuel Alito circulated in February.

Assuming the court overrules Roe sometime in the next two months, abortion will become illegal immediately in more than a dozen states. Other Republican-controlled states, including Iowa, will likely pass total or near-total abortion bans soon after.

But any such law could not take effect here as long as a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court precedent stands. In that case, the majority held that the Iowa Constitution protects a fundamental right “to decide whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy,” and any limits on that right are subject to strict scrutiny.

That ruling could be overturned in two ways.

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Corporate Kim Reynolds ignores working families' needs

Matt Sinovic is the executive director of Progress Iowa, a research, communications, and issue advocacy organization with a network of more than 75,000 across the state and country.

Iowans work hard to take care of our families. We want leaders who will do what’s right so that we can do our best. But for the past decade, the needs of working families have been ignored by Corporate Kim Reynolds.

Fewer Iowans are working today than when Corporate Kim Reynolds took office. There aren’t enough workers to keep schools, hospitals, and small businesses open. But the governor continues to double down on the policies that created her workforce crisis. The ones that give the wealthy and big businesses tax breaks, while taking money away from our public schools, public safety, and health care services.

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Profit, not pornography

Sondra Feldstein is a farmer and business owner in Polk County.

To everyone who says about Republicans wanting to ban “pornography” in school library books, “Do they know what their kids see on the internet?” 

News flash: the so-called pornography is an excuse. The content of some books does bother them. But even that is a distraction from what’s really at stake: the very existence of a public school system. 

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Koch-backed group taking sides in Iowa House GOP primaries

Americans for Prosperity — Iowa announced its first two endorsements for Republican legislative primaries on January 13. In both Iowa House districts, the candidates backed by the influential conservative lobby group will face more experienced GOP lawmakers in the June 7 primary.

Drew Klein, state director of the Koch-funded network‘s Iowa chapter, declined to comment for the record about the reasons underlying AFP — Iowa’s 2022 primary endorsements. AFP lobbies for or against dozens of bills Iowa lawmakers consider every year. The group’s priorities include tax cuts, undermining public sector unions, reducing occupational licensing requirements, and various measures to redirect public funds away from public schools.

AFP is backing Zach Dieken in the new House district 5, where State Representative Dennis Bush is seeking re-election, and first-term State Representative Steven Bradley in the new House district 66, where six-term State Representative Lee Hein is also running. The group is already publicizing its endorsements in Facebook ads.

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Abortion justice is health care justice

Glenn Hurst is a family physician in southwest Iowa and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

In my very first days of private practice, I met a patient with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was young, in her 30s. She and her husband had two children under the age of 5 and were doing the same struggling most young middle-class Americans do at that point in life. They worried about bills, insurance, saving for big purchases. They were not likely thinking about retirement, and they had no plans for a medical emergency. Now their family was faced with a medical crisis that no one could have predicted.

I could tell her hands were full as her husband tried to wrangle the kids who were up and down the walls of the exam room as she explained her situation to me.

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Pawn takes queen

Ira Lacher ponders the possible fallout from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that undermines reproductive rights.

When my wife and I consider a major home project, such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, we apply the principle I call “pawn takes queen.” As in chess, the idea is to consider several moves ahead so as to anticipate the ramifications. If we knock down a wall to open up the kitchen, where do we put the stove? Will we need to add new gas lines? Where? How much time and disruption will that add? And so on.

America may have to apply that principle if, as widely predicted after oral arguments December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Mississippi House Bill No. 1510M, which bans nearly all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy.

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A Virginia election with national implications

Dan Guild: Themes from the Virginia governor’s race will likely dominate the 2022 midterms across the country.

Ahead of the November 2 elections, I want to explain why the governor’s race in Virginia will tell us much about President Joe Biden and the outlook for Democrats. It is worth remembering that in September, the Democrats decisively beat back a recall effort in California. The result there suggested little had changed in the state since last November’s election.

However, the president’s job approval ratings have declined further over the past six weeks.

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It's time to codify Roe

Glenn Hurst is a family physician in southwest Iowa and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

It’s time to codify Roe v. Wade.

We all understand that the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision was a seminal victory for women across the country. Roe allowed American women to be treated a little more equally in our country’s social, political, and economic life.

As a doctor, I understand that the decision to have an abortion is not an easy one. I have never had a woman in my clinic decide to terminate a pregnancy lightly. Like all medical procedures, it is between a woman and her doctor.

As it stands, the GOP’s top priority is creating an anti-abortion mob of vigilantes to patrol the streets, looking for women to turn in for a reward. Make no mistake – this will result in a cottage industry of professionalized bounty hunters looking for vulnerable women to prey on.

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Iowa abortions increase for second straight year

About 14 percent more abortions were performed in Iowa during calendar year 2020 compared to the previous year, indicating that a sharp increase recorded in 2019 was not a one-off.

Iowa Department of Public Health data shows 4,058 pregnancy terminations occurred during 2020, up from 3,566 abortions performed in 2019. That number represented a 25 percent increase from the 2,849 abortions recorded in 2018.

Prior to 2019, abortions were on a steady downward trend in Iowa and nationally for at least a decade. The figure recorded for 2020 was the highest since 2013.

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Four ways the Iowa Supreme Court may handle next big abortion case

The Iowa Supreme Court will soon revisit one of the most politically charged questions of our time.

Last week a Johnson County District Court permanently blocked the state from “implementing, effectuating or enforcing” a law requiring a 24-hour waiting period before all abortions. Judge Mitchell Turner ruled the law unconstitutional on two grounds. The state is appealing the ruling and argues that a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court precedent, which established a fundamental right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution, was “wrongly decided.”

Republican lawmakers planned for this scenario when they approved the waiting period during the waning hours of the 2020 legislative session. They may get their wish, but a reversal of the 2018 decision is not guaranteed.

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Will poll-tested language sway Iowa voters on abortion amendment?

During the closing days of the Iowa legislature’s 2021 session, Republicans accomplished one task that eluded them in 2020: getting a constitutional amendment on abortion halfway toward appearing on a statewide ballot. I expected the House and Senate to approve the measure quickly, emboldened by a larger majority in the lower chamber, where the proposal stalled last year.

Instead, Republicans spent months haggling over how the amendment would be phrased, hoping to make this effort more palatable to Iowans who currently oppose it.

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