By James Q. Lynch and Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds plans to sign what is described as the nation’s most restrictive abortion law later today despite a Statehouse rally by opponents who rallied outside the Iowa Capitol Friday and dumped coat hangars outside her office.
Although there was little doubt, Reynolds, who has described herself as “100 percent prolife and will never stop fighting for the unborn,” had not said until early Friday afternoon that she would sign Senate File 359 that would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often as early as the sixth week of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.
At a rally organized by Planned Parenthood and allies across the street from the Capitol, speakers promised to continue to fight for reproductive rights.
Suzanna de Baca, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told a few hundred people at the “Iowa Fights Back” rally that the fight reproductive rights is “all of our fight … Iowa’s fight and it’s on all of us to push back against these attacks on our lives, our bodies, our care … our rights.”
“We were outraged, but we weren’t actually surprised because since the elections in 2016 we’ve gotten used to bad news, used to being attacked by shocking, unfathomable, unconscionable attacks,” she continued.
Like many of the speakers, de Baca had a message for Reynolds and the Republicans who passed SF 359: “We will see you in court.”
A court challenge will be filed “promptly,” according to Mark Stringer of the ACLU Iowa. He declined to discuss legal strategy including whether injunction will be sought in state or federal court and whether ACLU and others will take action before SF 359 takes effective July 1.
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“We will do whatever it takes to make sure that we protect the rights that our mothers, our grandmothers and our great-grandmothers have already won,” Erin Davison-Rippey, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland public affairs director promised.
Iowa’s four Catholic bishops also are preparing for a court challenge. In a joint statement Friday morning, Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque and bishops Thomas Zinkula of Davenport, R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City and Richard Pates of Des Moines called on the judiciary to recognize life. They were pleased the Legislature took action to “stop any trafficking in fetal body parts” and said they support “the life-affirming intent of the provision to stop abortions after a heartbeat can be detected.”
“As Pope Francis has said, ‘Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb.’ We call upon the judiciary to once again recognize that all life should be protected from the moment of conception to natural death,” the bishops said.
At the rally, speakers included high schools students, representatives of the LGBTQ community, the Inter-Faith Alliance, the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.
“We have been fighting legislative battles for the women of Iowa for 45 years and now is no different,” said Jennifer Price, co-director of the clinic that was the first abortion provider in Iowa. It’s not the first time the state has limited access to abortion, but SF 359 “is just too much, too extreme, too cruel, too heartless.”
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