Last week, the Iowa Legislature passed landmark police reform legislation, which puts restrictions on chokeholds and bans officers fired for misconduct from being rehired. But after that, progress stopped happening.
Instead, on June 14, late at night lawmakers pushed through two measures that fundamentally undermine the rights of Iowans. The first prevents county auditors from using Iowa’s voter registration database to fill in missing information on absentee ballot request forms, raising the risk some Iowans will not receive ballots.
The second puts a 24-hour waiting period on abortions.
In 2017, GOP-lawmakers passed a similar absentee ballot law, which was struck down in district courts, with the judge calling it “unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.” The odds are good this new law will face a similar challenge and receive similar results.
The abortion waiting period happened in lieu of an earlier plan to amend the state constitution and deny the right to an abortion. The amendment was unpopular among Iowans, with 54 percent opposing it, according to a Des Moines Register poll. And before Iowa lawmakers adjourned because of the coronavirus crisis, only the Senate had passed the amendment.
The Iowa GOP has a history of passing laws that restrict access to abortion, such as a 72-hour waiting period on abortion and a bill that would have banned abortions after a heartbeat is detected. Both of those laws were ruled unconstitutional after facing a challenge in the courts.
Additionally, Iowa has already gutted Planned Parenthood by blocking them from receiving family planning dollars. The 24-hour waiting period is yet another step in the process of the slow erosion of rights for women in this state. And with the pandemic showing no signs of stopping, critical access to timely care is essential.
The editorial board urges the governor to veto these measures as they undermine the very rights and access to health care that Iowans need now more than ever.
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