Des Moines, Iowa — Hundreds chanted, “Fuck the church. Fuck the State. Only we decide our fate,” “Abortion bans have got to go,” as they marched down the streets of Des Moines to the new federal courthouse. 

Des Moines Black Liberation Movement organized a protest Wednesday after the Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that the Supreme Court is preparing to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — which protects a person’s liberty to receive an abortion on the grounds of privacy. 

A group gathered at Cowles Commons and marched to the new federal courthouse under construction — at the intersection of Locust Street and Second Avenue — to fight for reproductive rights and safe access to abortions.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade is not gonna stop my advocacy,” Jada Alexander, a sexual assault victim’s advocate at ACCESS, spoke to a crowd at the intersection. 

Alexander advocates for Iowa State University students who experienced sexual assault, and one of her jobs is to provide services that enhance safety, empower survivors and promote understanding and social justice within the community.

“Abortion is a human rights issue, but it's also a victim's rights issue,” she told the Daily. “And so my advocacy does entail, like getting survivors safe, and access to safe abortions, and this is throwing a wrench in, you know, what that looks like, for me, and it's not going to stop the way I advocate. But I definitely think it's going to change something.” 

Overturning the 50-year precedent would give states the power to determine laws in relation to abortion access. Thirteen states have trigger laws that will go into effect after Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Washington Post. 

Specifically for Iowa, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion — a precedent that will remain in place regardless of the Roe v. Wade outcome, according to the reporting from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

At the protest, demonstrators highlighted the importance of reproductive justice and abortion access and also how it connects with the historical context of Black women. 

“It's important for me to be here personally, just because this affects me at a higher proportion than it would people who aren't Black women,” Alexander said. 

There are substantial disparities in abortion rates in the United States, with low-income women and women of color having higher rates than affluent and white women, according to the National Library of Medicine. 

“In 2008, the abortion rate for non-Hispanic white women was 12 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with 29 per 1000 for Hispanic women, and 40 per 1000 for non-Hispanic Black women,” according to the National Library of Medicine. 

If the draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, is adopted, it would rule in favor of Mississippi in the closely watched case over that state’s attempt to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote in the draft opinion. "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

In response to this opinion and those who argue against reproductive rights, Alexander said if they are “in the business of saving lives, we should be worried about the ones that are here.

“I feel like if we're truly pro life, maybe we should start looking into the foster care system, and like DHS, adoption — and what those things look like, because there's so many underserved people in the system that we could be helping, they're worried about fetuses.”

The Des Moines Black Liberation Movement will host a rally for Reproductive Justice at 6:45 p.m. on the west side of the Women of Achievement Bridge. 

(4) comments

Nuke Em

Thanks to the Daily for running this article. Keep up the coverage and, therefore, the pressure, on elected officials to serve the will of the people rather than 20% of population who are in the throes of religious extremism.

The most hilarious quote is from Jeff Kaufmann in a recent DSM Register article: "The Republican Party of Iowa is committed to defending the unborn and will fight for every person's right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness."

Please spare us. Those who support rolling back Roe are demonstrably NOT pro-life (see: non-stances on social programs and do-nothing political platforms and de-funding sex education in public schools). The GOP is pro-birth. That's it. If they were pro-life, they would run for office on expanding care for low-income folks after they make the "pious" choice to give birth.

Rolling back Roe is deeply unpopular except in the most zealous ranks. Fascism creeps in such ways.

Somebody Else

I must respectfully disagree that opposition to abortion is religious extremism. There are many atheists that decry abortion as morally wrong. As for extremism, I would say that is to be determined more in how you oppose abortion. If you bomb Planned Parenthood, certainly that's extremism. The majority of those that oppose abortion do not resort to any kind of extreme measures, though. They are defending what they believe is right, and they believe that terminating an infant before they are born is wrong. This is not an extreme viewpoint. It is not extreme to recognize an unborn child as an innocent human life and therefore should not be eliminated.

Whether or not it's the mind of Republican politicians on the reasons why being "pro-life" does not include expanding social programs, I'm not certain. My own take on the matter is that it's simply not the government's job to care for and provide for the child after birth. That is the job of the parents. It is also not the government's place to render assistance that the parents may need in childcare. If the parents are unable to support the child fully, they can reach out to advocacy groups, charities, churches, or other reputable establishments and people for childcare assistance. In the event a pregnant woman still does not have the desire to raise the child she bears, then she should give the child up for adoption so that someone who does want to want to have the child and will care for them properly may do so. In the case of rape, then abortion MAY be appropriate. In the vast majority of pregnancies resulting from consensual sexual relations though, abortion is not a morally correct course of action simply because the mother and/or father wishes to dispose of the consequences of their choices.

And please, do not throw the word "fascism" around like this. We dull the horror of this and other extreme forms of government by associating viewpoints and issues we find disagreeable with some such form of government simply because we disagree with them. Abortion is not an issue associated with any form of government, but it is an issue of morality. Free or oppressed governments may in either case have pro-life or pro-choice views on the matter.

Nuke Em

Thanks for your thoughts. You do know it is possible to be both pro-choice as a matter of law AND be personally against the action, right?

The question of "morality" is an interesting one. Is it "moral" to judge someone for what they do in their private lives, much less impose a law that infringes on privacy? Is it "moral" to take away a woman's right to do what she chooses with her body? Most importantly, is it "moral" to force a woman to bring a pregnancy to term when infant and/or maternal mortality is a real threat? Without some form of universal healthcare, many people who become pregnant cannot afford prenatal check-ups, thus putting them at risk of death. Where is the morality in that? A baby's life is worth more than the woman carrying it? The real story is that these church advocacy groups that you speak of are few and far between; the ones that do receive gov't funding are constantly under attack and/or underfunded (FYI: Planned Parenthood services are 90% non-abortion-related; they provide advice, contraception, and prenatal care). The problem could be largely addressed with more public funding of sex ed, not by banning abortion. Sex and pregnancies will always happen in all walks of life and all economic demographics. And here's a shocker: abortions will always happen, too. So the question is: is it moral to force someone to use unsafe means to complete the abortion, or is it moral to provide a safe, clean environment for the unfortunate procedure.

The problem is that the small but vocal group of predominantly Christian folks who want to do away with abortion see this debate in simple terms of right and wrong. The fact of the matter is that having a child is complicated for ANYONE, but can cause financial ruin AND bring a newborn into a helpless situation. Further, these mostly-Christian groups often want to do away with sex ed and contraception altogether (see above commentary on Planned Parenthood). To me, that seems unethical and, yes, tyrannical. Taking away education AND the right to choose to have sex and/or a baby basically imparts judgement on the act of sex itself. So yes, the laws banning abortion are fascist in nature because those folks making the laws that ban said abortions only accept one way to look at the world: my "moral" way or the highway. Bottom line: if we are going to ban the right to choice, you need to advocate for more public funding of Planned Parenthood, et. al. It's only "moral."

On a final note, I don't believe that the decision to end a pregnancy is typically an easy one. This is a complex issue that requires individual consultation with one's doctor and, if desired, one's religious mentor. But I posit that the ethics of an outright ban on abortion are questionable, and certainly morally dubious.

Facts and Logic

This argument will never cease to be hilarious: "You must pay for all healthcare, education, etc. for my baby. If not, I get to stick a knife in its head, literally tear it limb from limb, and vacuum it out of the womb." So very logical!

It's like saying "You must pay for a house for every homeless person, or we get to kill them!" or, "You must pay for the care of the elderly, or we may euthanize them!"

Such a baseless, immoral argument. Truly ludicrous!

As for arguing based on rape and incest terms, it's not really a fair basis considering that a vanishingly small number of abortions are because of that (1% or less - But, let's say abortion is allowed in cases of rape or incest - will that satisfy these protesters? Nope! They are just using an exception to try to argue for a rule, which is dishonest.

If you really believe that babies should be able to be killed until the point of birth "just because", you should at least be honest enough to say so outright.

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