The passionate Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the heartland of Iowa last Friday, bravely defending women’s access to abortion, standing strong in the face of ever-growing Republican efforts to strip away reproductive rights. The political arena couldn’t have been more charged.
Only two weeks prior, Iowa’s Republican governor had enforced a six-week abortion ban, promptly halted by legal interventions. Notably, Harris’s visit coincided with major Republican presidential candidates’ gathering nearby for a party fundraiser, many of whom are fervently advocating for more restrictions on abortions.
Jennifer Palmieri, a prominent Democratic figure, queried Harris on her motivation to visit Iowa and the message she intended to share. In response, Harris, who had frequented Iowa during her 2019 presidential run, underscored the state’s significance, stating it is a “measure of how we are doing as a country.”
In the Republican’s strategic chessboard, Iowa has a privileged status, marked to hold the primary caucus in the upcoming presidential race. Thus, Iowa’s policies are now sculpting the agendas of various GOP hopefuls.
Following the 2022 midterm elections, the Republican-dominated legislature in Iowa passed bills promoting privatized education, limiting gender expression, and notably, implementing a new abortion ban. Surprisingly, the majority of Iowans support legal abortion access, making the GOP’s stance all the more perplexing.
With the winds of political fervor swirling, Harris stands tall as a pillar of strength on reproductive rights in the Biden administration. Since the unsettling overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, she’s been visiting states across the country, advocating for reproductive health.
Harris fervently criticized the recent restrictions, particularly those with limited exemptions for victims of rape or incest, arguing that the government is undermining women’s agency and capacity to make their own choices. She pointedly remarked, “They don’t need to be told by their government.”
Addressing the contentious Iowa abortion law, Harris dubbed it an ‘effective ban’ as it severely restricts abortion access after just six weeks of pregnancy. She delivered a scathing critique of state legislatures, stating that many simply “don’t even know how women’s bodies work.”
Her words resonated with the audience, which included Democratic lawmakers, abortion rights advocates, students, and residents, triggering loud applause.
Ruth Richardson, head of Planned Parenthood North Central States, underscored the increasing politicization of healthcare decisions once freely made between women and their doctors. She emphasized the undeniable connection between abortion restrictions and escalating maternal mortality rates.
Harris also used her platform to criticize the simultaneous crackdown on voting access and LGBTQ+ rights across the nation. She specifically condemned Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which stifles education on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In Harris’s words, “I do believe that we are witnessing a national agenda that is about a full-on attack against hard-won, hard-fought freedoms and rights.”
State Sen. Pam Jochum appreciated Harris’s efforts to remain engaged with Iowa, a critical move that serves as a strong reassurance that the state and its issues are not forgotten, regardless of future presidential candidate selection processes.
Through her unflinching commitment and advocacy, Vice President Harris has reinforced that the fight for reproductive rights is far from over. In the face of a red wave, she stands firm, reminding us that the fight for justice and equality continues.