Government

National abortion rights group endorses Finkenauer

Dubuque Democrat says women's rights being 'chipped away'

Abby Finkenauer, with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, speaks Friday at her campaign office in Cedar Rapids as she was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national abortion rights group. Finkenauer, a Dubuque Democrat, faces U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in the November general election to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Abby Finkenauer, with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, speaks Friday at her campaign office in Cedar Rapids as she was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national abortion rights group. Finkenauer, a Dubuque Democrat, faces U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in the November general election to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Abby Finkenauer is the hope and future of the nation, according to the head of a national abortion rights group supporting her bid for a seat in the U.S. House.

Speaking to about 50 campaign staff, volunteers and supporters Friday at the Dubuque Democrat’s Cedar Rapids campaign office, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, encouraged them to help elect Finkenauer to stop the “decadeslong attempt to strip (women) of our most fundamental rights.”

“It is abhorrent. It is unjust. It is not good for women and our families,” she said before the group canvassed for Finkenauer, who is challenging two-term U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in the 20-county 1st District that includes Linn, Black Hawk, Dubuque and Marshall counties.

NARAL endorsed Finkenauer before she won four-way Democratic primary to face Blum because “Abby is the future of our country honoring the past we have traveled.”

The stakes are higher with the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was a reliable vote to uphold abortion rights. Now, President Donald Trump — through Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley — “is seeking to install a fifth justice that would overturn Roe, criminalize abortion and punish women for simply trying to run our own lives in the best way we know how,” Hogue said.

Also, she said, Iowa’s ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, as early as six weeks, “could be the case that goes to the Supreme Court that turns that cruel intention, that lack of respect for individuals, into the refusal to afford Iowa women the dignity that we can make good decisions.”

That’s personal for Finkenauer, who said the heartbeat law — now being challenged in court — strips away her rights and the rights of all women.

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Those rights “have been chipped away year after year,” she said, “and we must defend our rights as women. And we must have our great allies, the men in this room, defending as well.”

One of those men, 2nd District Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa City, said Democrats must demand “that whatever (Trump) does is not going to hurt women’s rights, ... is not going to turn the clock back on any number of fronts.”

Also on Friday, Blum, who has a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee, was endorsed by the national anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony List.

“When I was elected to Congress, I promised my constituents to always advocate for those who cannot protect themselves,” Blum said.

He referred to NARAL as an “extreme pro-abortion group” that has “promoted taxpayer-funded, unchecked, on-demand abortions without any limitations. NARAL has opposed bans on partial-birth abortions, the sale of fetal body parts and abortion decisions based on the baby’s sex,” Blum said.

Hogue said Iowans can be the antidote to Trump, Blum and others who want to overturn abortion rights.

“You could be the one who talks to the person who tips the balance” to send Finkenauer to the House “as the future generation that will lead us out of these dark times into a more just future.”

Earlier Friday, Hogue held an event on the west steps of the Iowa Capitol building to announce her organization’s endorsement of Fred Hubbell’s campaign for governor.

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“Not only has Fred Hubbell historically taken a public stand as a passionate advocate for expanding reproductive freedom,” Hogue said, “he has made it the pinnacle of his life’s work in public service.

“Right now, we have to constantly question who we can count on to stand strong in their values and fight for our rights. But we know exactly what kind of leadership Fred will bring to the job and that’s why he is the champion we need in the Iowa governor’s mansion.”

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

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