116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa’s Republican U.S. senators shied away from supporting a proposed nationwide ban on abortions when asked about that possibility Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he prefers to leave the issue to states.
“Finally, after 50 years, this issue has been returned to the states so voters can have a voice through their elected representatives at a state level and not by unelected judges,” Grassley told reporters. “So this is a state issue.”
Grassley is running for re-election to an eighth term. He faces Democratic challenger Mike Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral from Sioux City, in the Nov. 8 election.
South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill Tuesday that would create a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, did not answer whether she supported Graham’s bill, instead reiterating her broader stance on abortion rights.
“Iowans know that I am proudly pro-life,” Ernst told reporters.
But on Tuesday, Ernst told Axios, “We really should let the states take that initial role.”
Ernst was rumored to be planning to introduce a bill to limit abortion federally in May, according to the Washington Post.
In July, soon after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the federal right to an abortion came down, Ernst suggested the decision on how to regulate abortion should be made by the states.
“Again, this has been referred back to the states and local authorities by our United States Supreme Court. So this is not a national emergency,” she said.
Graham has previously introduced bills that sought to ban abortions nationally from 20 weeks of pregnancy, which both Ernst and Grassley previously supported. The pair were listed as co-sponsors on a bill Graham introduced in the Senate last year, which would establish criminal penalties – including a fine, a prison term of up to five years, or both – for physicians who perform or attempt to perform an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the pregnant woman.
Iowa’s Republican U.S. House members, Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra, are listed as co-sponsors of the House counterpart to Graham's 15-week abortion ban bill introduced Tuesday.
Graham’s proposal — which includes exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the woman — comes less than two months out from the midterm elections at a time when Republicans have been working to shift attention and messaging away from abortion to other issues after several recent elections have shown the issue energizing Democrats, female voters and abortion rights advocates.
Democrats have warned for months that Republicans would move ahead with a federal abortion ban if they win back control of Congress, a message that has helped drive an increase in voter registration among women in several states.
Voters last month in Kansas roundly rejected a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would have removed protections for abortion. Abortion rights advocates and GOP strategists said the result was a warning sign for Republicans, showing that voters, even in conservative, rural states and across party lines, broadly support abortion rights after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
National polls, as well as those in Iowa, have consistently shown that a majority of voters oppose ending federal abortion protections.
Graham, though, said he thinks a federal abortion ban should be part of the campaign process and force Republicans to adopt a partywide consensus on the issue, NPR reported.
The issue has split Republicans, putting Graham and other abortion opponents at odds with the views of many congressional Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said the issue of abortion should be left to the states.
McConnell on Tuesday poured cold water on the prospect of Graham’s bill making it to the Senate floor.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn, in a statement, called on Iowa Republicans to answer whether they support a national abortion ban.
“Reproductive freedom is about personal liberty and ensuring Iowans can make important decisions about their health care with their doctors and the people they love and trust,” Wilburn said. “ … Control over your own body gets at the heart of what it means to be free, and Iowa Democrats believe that everyone has the right to decide their own destiny.”
Comments: (319) 398-8499; firstname.lastname@example.org