The 2021 Iowa Legislative Session started today and within 35 minutes of gaveling into session, leadership attacked safe, legal abortion. With a pandemic ravaging our communities and a violent insurrection threatening our democracy, anti-choice legislators chose to attack reproductive health care. Again.
Despite the challenges of organizing during the pandemic, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa won two big anti-abortion fights during the 2020 session. The Constitutional Amendment (SJR 2001 & HJR 2004) was pulled off the agenda thanks to thousands of Iowans contacting their legislators opposing the bills. And, after the Iowa legislature passed in the middle of the night a forced waiting period without advance notice or public input. The 24-hour mandatory waiting period before abortion care was temporarily blocked in a ruling by the Johnson County District Court.
Unfortunately, with a Republican majority in both the Iowa House and Senate, anti-reproductive rights bills that were stalled or defeated last year are likely to come back this session. We’re ready.
Here are four attacks on reproductive health care that we expect to return this session.
1. Change the state constitution to remove the right to abortion
Last year, Iowa legislators proposed an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that states abortion is not a protected right and that there is no right to funding for abortion. This is a long-term effort—it must pass the legislature two years in a row, and then win the approval of a majority of voters in the subsequent election. Should the amendment fully pass, Iowans would be stripped of legal protections to access essential health care and would be at significant risk of losing legal cases against bad legislation.
2. Fetal death certificates
A fetal death certificate bill would require a medical professional to ask a person who has had a miscarriage, abortion, or still birth to choose between burial or cremation of fetal remains. It is a common tactic of anti-abortion legislators to guilt, shame, confuse, and mislead people seeking abortion care. It also moves up the fetal death certificate requirement from 20 weeks to 12. These restrictions are clearly another attempt by politicians to deceive and shame Iowans who seek safe, legal abortion.
3. Religious exemptions that increase discrimination
Religious exemption bills are attempts to establish legal frameworks allowing people to discriminate more openly. If religious exemptions bills pass, workers and companies can put their own personal beliefs ahead of other people’s. Freedom of religion is already protected under the constitution. These rules carry significant health, economic and social consequences and disproportionately affect people who are low-income and those living in rural areas.
4. Medically inaccurate abortion “reversal” legislation
Abortion “reversal” legislation would require medical professionals to inform patients seeking a medication abortion that the procedure "may be possible to reverse," despite no accredited scientific evidence supporting those claims. In fact, there is scientifically-sound evidence that the "reversal" procedure could cause serious harm to patients. Politicians should not be interfering in medical care and requiring health care providers to give medically-inaccurate information to patients.
Abortion and funding attacks are on their way, but you can help us work to block these harmful policy measures and ensure that every Iowan has access to high quality and affordable health care.
1. Join our mailing list to stay informed about this important work. Once you sign up, we’ll send you the most up-to-date information about legislation and policy related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, opportunities to get involved, and ways to take action.
2. If you’re ready to take it a step further, sign up to volunteer now.
3. Stay in the know by following us on social media:
With engaged supporters like you, we are confident we can make our voice heard. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa will continue working to protect Iowans’ access to the sexual and reproductive health care they need—no matter what. We hope you’ll join us!