Democratic candidate Deidre DeJear says as governor she’d resist new abortion restrictions, but she’d also push to ensure rural hospitals maintain delivery rooms and restore state funding for routine health exams at Planned Parenthood.

“What we’ve seen over the last several years is just continued degradation of women’s access to health care,” DeJear says.

At least 40 Iowa hospital maternity wards have closed since 2000. By last spring, 46 counties did not have a hospital with birthing center. DeJear says the state needs to ensure birthing moms have reasonable access to a hospital for delivery.

“It’s not just the Planned Parenthoods that are closing. We have county wards that are closing related to women’s reproductive health care access. We’ve got OB/GYN clinics closing all across the state,” DeJear says. “I’ve talked to moms, well, one mom in particular in rural Iowa who went to her county hospital only to find out the county hospital emergency room was closed in the middle of the night and she had to get to the closest hospital that she could with an emergency room and ended up having that baby in the car.”

DeJear describes her approach as “cradle to grave” and she says state government needs to do more to address child care deserts, where there are few or no options for parents.

“I also want to see a paid family leave program in the state of Iowa,” DeJear says. “Those are the things that I’m looking at related to lifting up the family.”

DeJear, who is challenging Republican Governor Kim Reynolds in the General Election, says contraceptives should be available over the counter. Reynolds endorsed the idea in 2018. A bill that would have made contraceptives like “the pill” available to adult women without a prescription stalled in the Republican-led House in 2019 and 2021.