Anti-abortion, abortion-rights counter protestors gather at Emma Goldman Clinic for national March for Life rally

The march was attended by mostly anti-abortion supporters, who were met outside of the Emma Goldman Clinic by abortion-rights protestors.


Matt Sindt

A sign reading “ABORTION RULEZ” is seen in a window behind a pro-life protester during an abortion protest and counter protest outside of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (Matt Sindt/The Daily Iowan)

Kufre Ituk , News Reporter

While anti-abortion advocates attended the March for Life rally on Saturday in Washington, D.C., over 200 anti-abortion and abortion-rights demonstrators gathered outside the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City. 

Johnson County Right to Life organized the event, and walked from St. Wenceslaus Church on Davenport Street to the Emma Goldman Clinic on Dubuque Street. The anti-abortion rights demonstrators were met with a counter protest of abortion-rights advocates lining the street in front of the clinic. 

The Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City is a women’s clinic that provides various services, including abortions. 

The rally lasted until around 11:30 a.m. when the anti-abortion demonstrators marched back to St. Wenceslaus Church. Abortion-rights demonstrators dispersed shortly after.

Sheryl Schwager, Johnson County Right to Life executive director, helped coordinate March for Life, which she described as a prayer rally.

“With Roe v. Wade being overturned, we don’t stop marching because there are abortions still occurring in our state and in our country,” Schwager said. “We wanted to gather the community together, pray, and give a witness to the community about the dignity of human life; human life begins in the womb and we believe that should be protected.”

Grant Manwaring, resident of Eastern Iowa, said he was on the abortion-rights side of the two demonstrations.

“I think that women’s access to abortion is extremely important, and I don’t think they [should] come out here to try and intimidate people out of getting abortions, which I know is what they commonly do, including spewing religious rhetoric that a lot of the young people in this community are not interested in hearing and we think negatively impacts the community,” Manwaring said.

Manwaring added that removing access to abortion is not going to make the action go away.

“Abortion is health care, and it’s extremely important. Trying to get rid of legal abortion is not going to get rid of abortion, it’s just going to get rid of safe abortion,” he said.

Iowa City resident Mary Rae Meyer said she attended the demonstration on the anti-abortion side to spread the message that she believes life to be precious until “natural death.”

“We also have resources available for women who are facing pregnancies in crisis so that we can get them connected with resources they need to be able to keep their children and raise their children,” Meyer said. “There’s plenty of resources here in Johnson County. People just aren’t always aware of them.”

Cayden Lambert, a third-year student at the University of Iowa, said he wanted to “fight for the right to life for all humans, born and unborn.”

“There are people on our side, there are people that support those in the womb. We do love all life. There’s a stigma that pro-life people only love those in the womb and I really think that’s not true. We’re fighting for the right to life from conception to natural death,” Lambert said.

Kris Doll, a first-year student at the UI, attended the demonstration on the abortion-rights side to show their support for a woman’s access to the clinic’s services.

“If people need an abortion or anything from the Goldman Clinic, they’re safe to do so, and these people on the other side aren’t important,” Doll said. 

Jo Arendt, a fourth-year student at the UI, said they attended with the abortion-rights supporters to take up space outside the clinic and decrease the ability of the anti-abortion demonstrators to protest.

“Everyone should have a chance, but when you’re pro forced birth, you’re not giving anybody to provide resources to the children they already have,” they said. “It causes a lot more harm than they think. It’s causing harm and hurting members of the community.”