The two candidates running in Iowa’s new first congressional district outlined their opposing views on abortion during their only joint appearance of the campaign.

Incumbent Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks of LeClaire cited her support for a bill that would ban abortions after the 15th week of a pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.

“Around 15 weeks is pain capable,” Miller-Meeks said. “…When you’re thinking about…medically what do you do in a late term abortion or a third trimester abortion, those abortions are gruesome…and I think to people, they see that in a different light than they do in an earlier time in pregnancy.”

Democrat Christina Bohannan of Iowa City supports reinstating Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, and she said the bill Miller-Meeks backs will throw doctors in jail for providing health care that’s been legal for nearly half a century.

“This is a very dangerous path that we are going down,” Bohannan said of proposed abortion restrictions and outright bans. “It will put women’s lives at risk and it is one of the worst examples of government overreach that we have seen in a very, very long time.”

Both candidates agree President Biden took the wrong approach in cancelling student loan debt. Bohannan said the debt relief should have been more targeted.

“We have to really focus on college affordability for all and for future generations and one time debt relief just doesn’t do that. It doesn’t accomplish that goal,” Bohannan said.

Miller-Meeks said one way to make college more affordable is to restructure the student loan program.

“Another avenue we could take is make schools partially responsible for loans, if there’s a default in the loan,” she said, “which then makes the college have some skin in the game.”

The candidates agreed unwilling property owners should not have their land seized for carbon pipelines and they expressed hope there will be some sort of break in the stalemate over immigration policy. Miller-Meeks said the legal
immigration system “is broken” and she’s trying to help Afghans qualify for political asylum or visas so they may work here.

“Both parties need to come together and I do think both parties have tossed this issue around,” Miller-Meeks said. “Meanwhile, we have thousands of people that want to come to this country legally, who are waiting to come to this country legally.”

Bohannan said it’s time for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform.

“That means a secure border — it does mean a secure border,” she said. “It also means a pathway to citizenship. It means helping people and small businesses with the bureaucracy that is the INS and our immigration system.”

The candidates made their comments in an hour-long Iowa Press debate on Iowa PBS last night.

Radio Iowa