2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Iowa Gov. Reynolds pitches judicial nominating change at anti-abortion rally

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 359 in her office at the Iowa State Capitol building on Friday, May 4, 2018. (Rod Boshart / The Gazette)
Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 359 in her office at the Iowa State Capitol building on Friday, May 4, 2018. (Rod Boshart / The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — Her decision not to appeal a judge’s ruling declaring Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law unconstitutional was one of the most difficult she has had to make, Gov. Kim Reynolds told anti-abortion activists Thursday.

“I want you to know that I prayed for guidance, consulted with the legal team, legislators and others who are committed to the fight for life,” the governor told the Family Leader’s Prayer Rally for Life in the Capitol rotunda.

Despite the judicial setback, Reynolds said Iowa’s law that banned most abortions once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, typically about six weeks of pregnancy, has “ignited a movement beyond our borders.” Similar legislation has been introduced in 11 states.

Reynolds, who was elected to a full term as governor last fall, reminded the rally that she’s fighter, “and you know I don’t give up.”

Part of her strategy, she said, is a Republican-backed plan to change Iowa’s 57-year-old judicial nominating process.

The changes will allow her to appoint judges “who will apply the law and adhere to the Constitution of Iowa and the Constitution of the United States, not inject their own philosophy,” she said to a standing ovation.

Not everyone was applauding. Women at the Capitol to protest so-called factory farms began yelling at the governor and anti-abortion activists to “keep your hands off my” body.

“This is about controlling women, not any ideal about saving babies,” said Sheila Knoploh-Odole of Des Moines. “This is just another ... rally to keep women on the defensive.”

Like the speakers at the Prayer for Life Rally, Knoploh-Odole invoked God.

“I think God gave us the intelligence and the skills to be able to perform abortions safely so we can control our population” before climate change causes crop failure, famine, civil unrest and war, she said.

“If we don’t start addressing that stuff now, abortions won’t matter,” Knoploh-Odole said. “That means more women and children are going to die.”

Although there have been highs and lows in the battle to end abortion, Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, called the court decision a temporary setback because 11 other states are considering heartbeat laws.

“If one of those doesn’t knock out Roe, another one will,” she said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

“We’re going to keep on coming,” Salmon said. “We’re going to keep on pushing and we’re not going to give up because God has told us ‘it’s time.’ We have to protect lives.”

Salmon is the lead sponsor of House Joint Resolution 5 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=HJR5&ga=88 that calls for amending the Iowa Constitution to specify that it does not “secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

Her amendment, she said, “will do an end-run, an end-run around the Iowa Supreme Court.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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