Iowa GOP rams through horrific abortion ban in the dead of night


Iowa Republicans passed a bill to ban almost all abortions in the state — but their real goal is even worse than that.

Iowa already has some of the most egregious abortion restrictions in the country, but that's not enough for the state's Republican Party.

So just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Iowa Senate passed a fast-tracked bill to ban almost all abortions in the state.

But proponents of the bill aren't even satisfied with that. They're openly hoping the bill will be used to ban abortions throughout the country.

"I would love for the United States Supreme Court to look at this bill and have this as a vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade," said Republican state Sen. Jake Chapman.

In other words, Chapman and his fellow Republicans deliberately passed a bill they know is unconstitutional, in an attempt to deprive women across America of their constitutional access to abortion.

"By passing an intentionally unconstitutional bill, Iowa Republicans have declared that they do not care about the foundational values of our state, or Iowa’s future," said Erin Davison-Rippey, public affairs director of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which serves Iowa patients.

"They do not care how much taxpayer money will be spent on a lawsuit, they don’t care how many women’s lives will be damaged because of inadequate access to care, or how many families may choose to go elsewhere because Iowa is no longer a state where they are safe to live and work."

Iowa Republicans aren't alone in pursuing this radical, cynical, and costly strategy. Activists in several other states have been openly pushing similar laws for this purpose since Trump assumed the presidency and started packing the federal courts with far-right ideologues.

While courts have repeatedly struck down similar restrictions and bans on abortion — including the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Iowa — activists who've been working for years, or even decades, to criminalize abortion think they have a real shot now, thanks to Trump.

Now the Iowa bill — which was passed along party lines and is now headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, whose press secretary indicated she's open to signing it — could provide the kind of opportunity anti-health radicals are looking for.

It will also be a disaster for women. Restricting or banning access to legal abortion only makes abortions less safe for women who end up seeking out illegal options that might endanger their lives.

That's something Iowa Republicans apparently don't care about, though.

During the House's debate on the bill, Republican state Rep. Sandy Salmon demonstrated a stunning lack of concern for what will happen to those women, saying that "if [women] go to the back alleys ... it's their choice."

Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who is running to unseat Republican Rep. Rod Blum in the state's 1st Congressional District, delivered a powerful speech on the floor of the statehouse to try to stop the bill, blasting her Republican colleagues for their many attacks on women's health care.

"I stand with thousands of women throughout our state today, and you are voting on my health, my choices — and you are, right now, stripping from me, your colleague, her rights today," she said.

"My question for this legislative body is: What's next? What's the next right you're going to take away from women in this state? It's a question every single one of us better be thinking about."

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price also blasted Republicans for pushing the bill through.

"Last night, we saw Republican leadership at its worst," Price said in a statement. "Rather than tackling the toughest issues facing our state, the GOP decided to pass a knowingly-unconstitutional bill in the dead of night that will do nothing but put the health care of Iowa women at risk."

If the governor does sign the bill into law, it will almost certainly and immediately end up in court, costing Iowans money and endangering women's health in a gross attempt to deprive women of their constitutional rights.

Sadly, for Republicans, that's the point.