WATERLOO — About 50 people attended a rally Wednesday evening at Lincoln Park to protest a wave of laws passed by states in recent weeks to severely restrict access to abortions.
Originally planned Tuesday as one of more than 400 events across the nation, the rally was postponed a day by rain.
New state laws in Missouri, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama and Kentucky greatly restrict abortions in hopes of spurring the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. A new law in Alabama bans all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.
“Rapes cause pregnancy for more survivors than you can imagine,” said Gwen Bramlet-Hecker, 51, of Riverview Center, which works with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. “Denying reproductive justice to survivors is inflicting yet another traumatizing event.”
Bramlet-Hecker said reproductive rights are human rights.
“When you look at a 12-year-old girl who has been raped by an uncle who finds herself pregnant, in no way, shape or form should anybody be telling that young girl that she must take that baby to term,” she said.
State Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo, criticized a bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law this month by Gov. Kim Reynolds that cuts funding to Planned Parenthood’s sex-education courses.
“My partners in the House want smaller government, unless it has to do with your uterus,” Brown-Powers said.
Many at the protest emphasized the role of sex education in reducing abortion.
“If we truly want to reduce abortions, we don’t want to reduce education in schools to our teens,” Brown-Powers said. “We need to make sure that women and men have the education and the contraception and the protection that they need.”
“We know — and it’s criminal to act like you don’t — that sex education is a way to stop unwanted pregnancies, and if you stop unwanted pregnancy or unplanned pregnancies you stop abortion,” Bramlet-Hecker said.
Also attending the rally was Eddie Mauro, who announced this week he will challenge U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in 2020.
Chris Schwartz, Black Hawk County supervisor, helped organize the event.
“Reproductive freedom and reproductive health has been under attack,” Schwartz said. “Women and the trans community are under attack, and the autonomy over their own bodies is under attack.”