On Monday, South Dakota’s governor signed a bill into law that bans nearly all abortions in South Dakota, renewing the abortion rights debate among Democrats who are running for governor in Iowa. Secretary of State Chet Culver, one of the Democrats in the gubernatorial race, says for the first time in 30 years there is now a real threat to abortion rights. “I’m very disturbed about what our neighbors in South Dakota have done,” Culver says. “I think that despite what some are saying, it really shows that a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is under attack.”
The bill which South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed bans all abortions except those required to save the life of the mother. There are to be no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Planned Parenthood plans to sue to block implementation of the South Dakota law. Culver says if becomes governor of Iowa, he will oppose any attempt to restrict abortion. Culver says he has “consistently” said he would veto any bill that would infringe on a “woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”
Culver’s competitor, Democrat Mike Blouin, sponsored legislation in the 1970s when he was in Congress that would have banned abortion. During his bid to become governor, Blouin has said he’s opposed to abortion but would not sign any abortion restrictions into law. A spokeswoman for the Blouin campaign restated yesterday that a ban on abortion is “different from current law, so he wouldn’t sign it.” Culver, though, suggests Blouin’s answer isn’t good enough. “I think Iowa voters deserve clear and consistent answers on these tough questions,” Culver says.
Culver calls he and his runningmate, Patty Judge, the “pro-choice ticket” for Democrats. But State Representative Ed Fallon of Des Moines says he, too, has a pro-choice record. “When you go out and buy a car, it’s really important to look under the hood and it’s really important for people considering which candidate they want to support to look at our track records, check under our hoods, see what we’ve done, not just what we’re saying we’re going to do,” Fallon says. “If there’s a discrepancy between what a candidate says now and what he has stood for in the past, then that ought to raise some concern for voters.”
The Republican candidate for governor is Congressman Jim Nussle. “I’m 100 percent pro-life and that’s my voting record,” Nussle says. “I will work with the Iowa Legislature. In fact, I’ve promoted a bill that will actually provide for parental consent (before a minor may obtain an abortion).” Nussle says the Iowa Legislature probably wouldn’t consider abortion restrictions that are as “far reaching” as those passed in South Dakota. “I will work with the legislature if I have the opportunity to be governor to try and ensure that parents have more of a direct impact on their kids choices as far as abortions are concerned,” Nussle says.
Iowa current has a parental notification law which requires parents to be notified when a minor seeks an abortion, but the parent does not have to give consent before the abortion may be performed.