Senate Republicans vote to take away women’s rights

On Feb. 13, Iowa Senate Republicans approved legislation to take away rights currently in the Iowa Constitution. Sen. Janet Petersen called it a failure to protect moms and babies, especially in light of the many maternity ward closings.


Ladies and Gentleman of the Senate, on the opening day of the Legislative Session, I said,

“Iowans shouldn’t have to worry that their human and civil rights are on the line when the Legislature is in session.”

But here we are…

Today, Senate Republicans, under the leadership of Senator Schneider and Senator Whitver, are pushing a Constitutional Amendment designed to strip away the freedom of Iowa women, girls and their families.

President Schneider and Leader Whitver – this debate calendar for today is one for the history books – one you will both be remembered for.

First, you celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.

Then, on the same debate calendar, the only other piece of legislation you put forth is a Constitutional Amendment to strip women and girls of their basic human rights.

You’ve chosen today to push an extreme agenda with the ultimate goal of an all-out abortion ban in Iowa –with no exceptions granted under any circumstances, instead of focusing on real problems facing young Iowa families in our state.

Iowa women and girls need MORE access to safe health care close to home, NOT LESS.

But that doesn’t seem to faze you.

Never mind that Iowa is facing a maternal health crisis facing our state.

Never mind that Iowa’s maternal mortality rate has more than doubled in the past three years.

Never mind that 66 Iowa counties don’t even have a single OB/GYN.

Livestock in our state has better access to doctors than Iowa women and girls, but I guess that doesn’t matter to you.

Never mind that Iowans are losing labor & delivery departments and safe places to go for decent reproductive health care at a dangerous and deadly pace.
Iowa families represented by Senator Sinclair have lost three labor & delivery departments in Chariton, Knoxville and Leon.

The families Senator Miller-Meeks represents have lost three labor & delivery departments in Bloomfield, Keosauqua, and Fairfield.

Moms-to-be in Senator Rozenboom’s district lost their labor & delivery department in Centerville.

Young families who are represented by Senator Segebart lost access to three labor & delivery departments in Audubon, Manning, and Sac City.

Senator Waylon Brown – young families in your district had already lost labor & delivery services in Osage. Now you can add New Hampton to the list of places that won’t serve moms-to-be in your district anymore.

Moms-to-be represented by Senator Johnson no longer have a labor & delivery department to deliver their babies in Oelwein and Independence.

Senator Johnson was assigned the Healthy Moms and Babies Act to help address the maternal health crisis facing Iowa. But Senator Johnson hasn’t scheduled a subcommittee on the bill yet.

Senator Edler: you promised the families in your district more access to health care. But Marshalltown because the Iowa community to lose a Level 2 labor and delivery department.

Iowa parents-to-be that Senator Costello represents no longer have labor & delivery departments in Clarinda and Hamburg.

Families Senator Sweeney represents lost labor & delivery departments in Iowa Falls and Eldora.

Families Senator Whiting represents lost labor & delivery departments in Sibley and Rock Rapids.

Parents-to-be and families living in Anamosa, Corning, Dyersville, Estherville, Guttenberg, Hampton, Humboldt, Ida Grove, Jefferson, Keokuk, Maquoketa, Washington, Webster City – all lost labor and delivery departments.

Mount Pleasant is soon to shutter its labor and delivery program. And NONE of these hospitals that closed their labor and delivery departments are required to make sure other communities can take on the additional patient load, or that women have safe transportation to get to distant hospitals.

So, even if your senate district hasn’t lost a labor and delivery department, your constituents health care is compromised as well. Access to a labor and delivery room matters.

And the problem is getting worse.

We know we’re likely to see an additional 10 labor & deliveries close down in the near future. A significant number of OB/gyns and family practitioners are planning to retire soon. And, we are starting to lose family practice residency programs in the state.

These, my friends are real issues.

BUT instead of making Iowa a safer place to have a baby, or help women get health care to regulate problematic periods, and address period health care issues that impact their ability to go to school and work, or improving access to family planning services so parents can choose when to have kids, and safely space their pregnancies, or choose not to have kids.

Instead government is intruding on their lives.

You have chosen to take away freedoms from Iowans.

Instead of dealing with real problems that can truly be life or death problems for women and girls in our state, you have chosen to ram your power into women’s bodies once again.

Wasn’t it enough, when you banned thousands of Iowa women from getting their reproductive health care from Planned Parenthood, Unity Point and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics…while you still enjoyed your taxpayer funded health insurance that allowed you, your spouses and your kids to access those providers and even get the same services you denied to the women you represent?

Women are getting tired of you making your political statements with our uteruses.

It’s time to quit punching women and girls in the uterus with your policies, and pretending it’s for our own good.

This Constitutional Amendment steals the rights away from Iowa women and girls by taking away our ability to make personal decisions about what is best for our bodies, our future, our families, and our pregnancies.

I can’t think of a single body part that is regulated more than the UTERUS.

Not a big toe.

Not eyes.

Not even the penis, which is responsible for 99% of all rapes and 100% of all unintended pregnancies in our country, according to facts and science.

To my Senate Republican colleagues – it is time for you to quit treating Iowa women and girls as second-class citizens whose rights and opportunities are inferior to your own.

I don’t like to be mansplained on what human rights are.

This constitutional amendment is written with the sole purpose of banning access to safe abortion care in Iowa.

Don’t let the misleading language in this amendment confuse you.

This amendment is not designed to protect women.

The intent of this constitutional amendment, and the politicians behind it, is to make sure Iowa can ban abortion without exception.

When you take away access to safe, legal abortion care, and maternal health care, you do not protect women and girls – you put their lives at risk.

That’s why the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose efforts to ban abortion.

Iowans – not politicians – should be in charge of our own personal medical decisions.

Make no mistake about it – this Constitutional Amendment is part of an extreme abortion ban agenda pushed by Republican politicians here in Iowa and across the country – designed to do one thing. End access to safe abortion care, no matter what the cost to the lives of women, girls and families living in our country.

President Schneider, you chose to use the power of the Senate Presidency to have the Iowa Senate celebrate women’s right to vote today. And then in the very same day, you allowed a debate on an ultra-extreme Constitutional Amendment that strips women and girls of their basic human rights.

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think!

President Schneider, I am glad you don’t have the power to take away women’s RIGHT TO VOTE that our grandmas and great grandmas fought for more than 100 years ago because I know WOMEN intend to use that right.

I urge a no vote.