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Iowa lawmaker says she plans to propose total abortion ban
Meanwhile, Reynolds asking court to reinstate 2018 ‘fetal heartbeat’ law
DES MOINES — An Iowa lawmaker said Monday she plans to introduce legislation that would put a total ban on abortion in the state.
During a “Prayer for Life” rally at the Iowa Capitol, Rep. Luana Stoltenberg, R-Davenport, said she hopes Iowa will pass a “life at conception” bill.
“My prayer is that Iowa will pass a life at conception bill to protect their most vulnerable and defenseless citizens,” she said.
Stoltenberg, 62, said she had three abortions as a teen, and the procedures left her unable to have children. She later developed a Christian faith, she said, and opposing abortion rights was a key part of her 2022 campaign. She has not yet proposed a bill that would prohibit abortion at conception, but she said in an interview she would.
Iowa’s Republican legislative leaders said before their session began in January they plan to wait for an Iowa Supreme Court decision on the state’s so-called fetal heartbeat law before moving forward with more restrictions.
Abortion is legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks. Gov. Kim Reynolds is asking the court to reinstate a 2018 law that would ban abortion once cardiac activity is detected in a fetus, generally around six weeks, often before a person knows they are pregnant.
“If it can be presented and go forward, I do hope it does (pass),” Stoltenberg said of her proposal. “Because I think the (Iowa) Supreme Court said they would expedite (their decision), but I’m not sure when that will be, so I don't know if it will be before we get out of session or not.”
Reynolds also spoke at the event, but she did not propose any further restrictions on abortion than reinstating the 2018 law, which was ruled unconstitutional.
Still, to the dozens of activists gathered at the Capitol, Reynolds said there is “still more to do” for the anti-abortion rights cause. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision — which overturned Roe v. Wade and left abortion decisions top states — rewrote the playbook for the movement, she said.
“The end of Roe begins a completely new phase in the battle for life,” she said. “Across the country what matters now is the will of the people. Not government-appointed judges.”
Reynolds highlighted her proposal to provide a boost to the More Options for Maternal Support program passed last year, including creating initiatives that reach out to at-risk fathers and potential fathers.
Sen. Kevin Alons, a Republican from Salix, echoed the comments made by Stoltenberg and said his hope is for state law to define life as beginning at conception.
Democrats have criticized Republicans’ positions on abortion, saying they are not in line with Iowa voters and threaten women’s rights and reproductive health care.
In a statement, Jennifer Konfrst, the House Democratic leader from West Des Moines, said Iowans overwhelmingly support access to abortion and reproductive freedom.
“Politicians have no place interfering in someone else’s decisions about when to start a family,” Konfrst said. “The latest plan by MAGA Republicans to ban all abortion without exception will put the lives of too many Iowans at risk. Democrats believe everyone deserves the right to make their own health care decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive care and abortion."
Iowa Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird said at the rally she would work to “protect the right to life.” Bird signed onto a letter last week warning pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens they could run afoul of federal law by sending prescribed abortion pills in the mail. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for retail pharmacies to prescribe medication abortions, including through the mail, last month.