Politicians, religious leaders, activists come together in solidarity for right to abortion

Repros for Iowa put on rally on the Pentacrest on Oct. 9.


Grace Smith

Abortion-rights supporters listen to Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz speak during a reproductive rights rally at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

An estimated 30 Iowa City abortion-rights supporters and activists gathered at the University of Iowa Pentacrest on Sunday.

Repros for Iowa, a podcast group that discusses reproductive issues, organized the rally for abortion rights, including speakers from religious leaders, local politicians running for office, and abortion activists.

Mica Doolan, an organizer of the event from Repros for Iowa, said Repthe organization first held over a year ago on the Pentacrest Texas Abortion Ban.

Doolan also serves as an abortion storyteller on behalf of National Storytellers of Planned Parenthood. Doolan said it was only after the Texas ban that they felt a realization to tell the stories of their own abortions.

“I’ve had three. I had my first one 12 years ago at the age of 20,” Doolan. “I didn’t have a car at the time. I had to ask for rides to my appointment. It felt isolating and shameful.”

Although politicians spoke at the rally in support of abortion rights, Doolan said many politicians avoid the word abortion.

“I am tired of seeing politicians skirt around the topic by using words like reproductive health care, women’s rights,” Doolan said. “I don’t care what side of the line they’re on. If they’re fighting for us, they will use the word.”

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Adam Zabner, District 90 for the Iowa House, recalled his father’s medical experience in Venezuela and talked about the medical system in the country while speaking at the protest.

“My dad went to medical school there, and one of the only intensive care units in the country where you could actually study septic shock was at the maternity hospital because they would have so many patients coming in with botched homebrewed abortions,” Zabner said. “That cannot be the future of our state.”

Janice Weiner, a democratic candidate running for Iowa Senate District 45, spoke at the event about how abortion should be perceived.

“It’s not about science,” Weiner said. “It’s about one narrow worldview. And it’s about power. It also happens to infringe on freedom of religion.”

Esther Hugenholtz, who is a Rabbi for Congregation Agudas Achim in Iowa City, spoke on the action taken on reproductive rights by Jewish religious leaders to support the right to abortions.

“Organizations like Rabbis for Reproductive Justice, to which I belong, are continuing to step into the public discourse unabashed,” Hugenholtz said. “The National Council of Jewish Women is collaborating with the National Abortion Federation to raise funds for those needing financial aid to receive reproductive health care.”

Johnson County Board of Supervisor Jon Green said some Republicans have accepted the belief that fetuses should have human rights more important than the person who is pregnant.

“They’ve gotten high on their own supply, but it’s a smokescreen,” Green said. “The truth is, those who wish to deny the rights of health care — and make no mistake abortion is health care —  do so because they desire dominion over you and your bodies.”