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Iowa’s attorney general flies a flock of legal birds
While the Republican Legislature’s dismal, harmful work product was grabbing our attention, freshly elected GOP Attorney General Brenna Bird has been super busy.
She campaigned on taking on Biden administration officials, promising to “give ’em the Bird” in her famous TV ad. Already, we’ve seen a flock of birds from Bird.
For example, Bird has joined 21 other attorneys general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug mifepristone to terminate pregnancies. A federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, who has rendered anti-abortion rulings previously, temporarily suspended approval of the drug, which was found “safe and effective” 23 years ago. But a federal judge in Washington state ordered the FDA to take no action curtailing the drug’s availability.
The whole thing is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where reproductive rights go to die. Maybe Bird will have a front-row seat.
Abortion, including the use of drugs to terminate a pregnancy, remains legal in Iowa. Bird is among state Republican leaders determined to change that. She’s not wasting any time.
Bird also added her signature to a letter signed by attorneys general from Missouri and Alabama warning CVS and Walgreens about possible legal action if the pharmacies send abortion drugs through the mail.
How far will Bird go? A month ago, Bird announced a pause in state payments from a crime victims compensation fund to reimburse rape victims for the cost of emergency contraceptives and, in rare cases, an abortion. Bird has said little about how long the audit will take. Forever is a good guess.
"I don't have any updates right now, our office has paused payments, reimbursements to abortion providers and providers of Plan B, and we will announce results once that's concluded," Bird told Iowa News Now this past week.
According to Iowa Public Radio News in April, 67 claims for emergency contraception were on hold, adding up to $2,600, along with a $730 claim from a sexual assault victim who had an abortion. And yet the audit continues. This must be the most scrutinized $3,000 in state history.
Bird cut her teeth in the abortion debate working as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Steve King, who opposed abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
"What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?" King said in 2019.
"Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can't certify that I'm not a part of a product of that,” King added.
Now, Bird is pillaging reproductive rights. Somewhere, Steve King is smiling.
A majority of Iowans believe abortion should be legal. But this is what they voted for when they tossed out longtime Attorney General Tom Miller. Although in late March, a Des Moines Register Iowa poll showed 44 percent of Iowans didn’t know enough about Bird to evaluate her job performance.
Wake up, folks.
Bird has also joined 23 Republican attorneys general in seeking to strike down the Biden administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule. WOTUS seeks to clarify what wetlands and water bodies fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act. In April, a federal judge in North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction stopping the new rules. It was a big day for dirty water.
Bird claims that the new rules would regulate 97 percent of Iowa land, repeating a frequently heard lie conjured up by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Truth is, the battle over WOTUS is really about protecting scores of wetlands across the nation that affect water quality in adjacent streams, rivers and lakes. The Clean Water Act largely exempts agriculture, leaving states to regulate it.
Iowa has done a bang-up job.
Filtering contaminants through wetlands doesn’t make anyone a fat profit. So we’re much better off draining them to make way for a housing development or a strip mall. And our attorney general is on board. Maybe they’ll let her drive a bulldozer.
And of course, Bird is diving into the politics of immigration, joining a list of red state attorneys general challenging a Biden administration policy granting temporary parole to immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela if they meet certain conditions and have private sponsors in the U.S. A federal judge in Florida has blocked the practice, which supporters contend has been legal under immigration law for decades.
The policy was put in place to relieve pressure on border shelters and led to a sharp drop in border encounters with people from those countries. But any policy that allows immigrants into the U.S. must be demonized for political gain. Be scared of the brown people.
We have yet to hear Bird’s plan for cracking down on farming operations, meatpacking plants and other businesses that hire undocumented workers. I’m sure it will come right after that audit is completed.
Bird has also lent the state’s voice to legal actions opposing college debt forgiveness, the war on gas stoves and a cybersecurity rule that would require small-town water systems to beef up security.
Once again, this is what Iowans voted for. A state with dirty water opposes clean water rules. A state with a workforce shortage doesn’t want immigrants. Gas stoves, that’s what we’re worried about.
It brings back memories. In 2019, Republican lawmakers who insisted Miller was spending too much time suing the Trump administration voted to take away his power to join out-of-state lawsuits.
“He and he alone must decide whether he serves the people of the state of Iowa or the base of the Democratic Party,” said Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, during floor debate.
Now, Bird is serving the base of the Republican Party to the detriment of many Iowans. Not only did the Legislature fall silent, but it also gave her a $1.25 million budget increase and vastly expanded her powers.
But again, this is what you voted for, Iowa.
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