Opinion | It is imperative we stand up for reproductive rights

As reproductive rights are steadily threatened across the country, it’s vital a time as ever we fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.


Nick Rohlman

The Emma Goldman clinic is seen on Wednesday, Feb. 2018.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

When high school graduate Paxton Smith switched her approved graduation speech to talk about reproductive rights, she had no idea her voice would be heard by millions. Smith’s speech sparked a conversation among women across the country about recent tightening of abortion restrictions.

In her moving valedictorian speech, Smith spoke against new restrictions regarding abortion in Texas.

“I can not give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights, a war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent,” Smith said in her speech.

The restriction comes from the passage of  Texas’ controversial Heartbeat Bill. This law bans abortions after six weeks, which is before many learn they are pregnant. While similar laws in different states have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, this bill differs as it gives any private citizen the right to sue doctors or abortion clinic employees who work against this bill.

The war on reproductive rights is not just happening in Texas. It is happening in Republican-controlled states across the country, including Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has been a visible figure in the fight to restrict abortion in Iowa. In July 2020, Reynolds signed a law requiring women to wait 24 hours after their initial appointment to receive an abortion. In many cases, women must wait weeks to receive the second appointment. This has been just one of several pushes that Reynolds has made to further restrict abortion.

Recently, the Iowa Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment stating the constitution does not ensure a right to abortion. This bill was passed in both houses of legislature, with all but three Republican house members voting in favor. The amendment will appear on Iowa ballots in 2024.

Though laws and amendments can be put in place, denying women access to safe and accessible abortions will not promote life. It will force women into life-threatening situations, repeating the country’s blood-stained history prior to Roe v. Wade.

Women’s ability to control their futures and have choice over their own bodies is steadily being torn away. Despite the historic steps forward continuously taken by women, there are those who continually fight to push women into roles meant to suppress their voice.

The pro-choice movement does not wish to bolster or encourage abortion, but rather give women control over their own bodies and to make choices that affect their future and well-being, not the lives of others.

It is clear that Reynolds and Iowa Republicans wish to restrict women’s reproductive rights by whatever means necessary. The war against reproductive rights comes at a priceless cost to women: our lives and future.

Like many young women, Smith believes her future is under fire.

“I have dreams and hopes and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does, and we have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us,” Smith said in her speech.

As a young woman in the same stage of life as Smith, I share the terror that control over my body and my future is going to be torn away. Like many others, my aspirations for the future are at stake by the movement aiming to control my reproductive rights.

I beg you to have courage to fight the war that is against your mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and foes. The right to choose is not a right women can afford to lose.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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