# Jack Whitver



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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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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School "transparency" is a cruel hoax

Gerald Ott of Ankeny was a high school English teacher, and for 30 years he was a school improvement consultant for the Iowa State Education Association.

The Kansas City Star’s editorial board warned its readers on June 2 that “the arch conservative Liberty Alliance has created a Woke Heat Map.” The website is an interactive map of Missouri with dots representing “hot spots” where, as the Alliance claims, “the Woke Agenda … is permeating.” 

The Alliance is a faction of ultra-right zealots who use a website to undermine democracy—and raise money from an easily duped clientele. The Springfield (MO) News-Leader reports one hotspot in its area, and six in St. Louis, three in Kansas City, and one in Columbia with alleged “woke agendas” — “where toddlers are groomed with sexually explicit books.” This was in the first week.

It’s fraud. In nearly all cases, the New-Leader says, the documentation used to designate a “woke” hotspot is based on a tweet, column, or article from a conservative leader or platform.

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Six terrible bills Iowa Republicans didn't pass in 2022

After a hectic two days at the capitol, the Iowa House and Senate finished their work for the year shortly after midnight on May 25.

In the coming days, Bleeding Heartland will cover some of the final bills in detail. As usual, there were a few surprises in the “standings” bill, such as a provision expanding open enrollment from public schools. While Democrats opposed many bills sent to Governor Kim Reynolds this week, including a ban on COVID-19 vaccine requirements for schools or child care centers, they welcomed one of the last-minute proposals, which exempts diapers and period products from Iowa’s sales tax.

This piece will focus on bills that didn’t make it through, despite a push from Reynolds or top Republican lawmakers.

I anticipate future legislative battles over most if not all of these proposals. Earlier this year, the governor signed into law two priority items that failed to advance in 2021: a measure banning transgender Iowans from girls’ and women’s sports, and deep cuts to unemployment benefits.

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How Jake Chapman, Sarah Trone Garriott are appealing to voters

Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman made it official on January 31: he will seek re-election in the new Senate district 14, rather than moving to safer Republican territory nearby. His decision sets up what should be a competitive race against Democratic State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott this November.

Bleeding Heartland previously reviewed the political landscape and recent voting history of Senate district 14, a swing district mostly populated by suburban voters. As the campaign progresses, I’ll check in regularly on how Chapman and Trone Garriott are making their case.

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