The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Christina Bohannan hosts roundtable discussion on abortion rights and health care access

The event was held at the Iowa City Public Library on Tuesday and touched on various topics, such as abortion rights in the state.
Cody Blissett
Former Iowa State Representative Christina Bohannan speaks at the Iowa City Public Library on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. Bohannan spoke on Iowa’s reproductive health care and answered questions from attendees.

Christina Bohannan, a Democratic congressional candidate and law professor at the University of Iowa, held a round table at the Iowa City Public Library on Tuesday to discuss abortion rights and health care access in the state.

Specifically, the discussion centered around laws and proposed legislation in Iowa that would limit abortion rights, in vitro fertilization, and access to birth control and contraceptives.

Around 10 people were in attendance at the round table and shared their personal experiences and thoughts on the state of abortion rights in Iowa.

Bohannan is the sole Democrat running for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, and she will likely face off against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, who currently holds the district’s seat. The general election is on Nov. 5.

At the round table, Bohannan said she wanted to gather the experiences and opinions of her constituents on the topic of reproductive health care in Iowa.

Recently, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos are granted personhood status, which has sparked debate among federal lawmakers about protecting the right to access in vitro fertilization treatment. The Alabama ruling would mean that embryos that are destroyed in a fertility clinic would be considered a crime. However, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has since signed a bill that protects IVF clinics from legal liability.

A bill was introduced by Iowa House Republicans in early March that would increase penalties for killing an “unborn person,” which Democrats said could impact in vitro fertilization in a similar way to the Alabama ruling. This bill was later not passed in the Iowa Senate.

Bohannan said the laws being passed in the state, such as Iowa’s six-week abortion law, that limit access to reproductive health care may play a role in this shortage.

“The thing is that bringing that idea in and passing any one of these laws then makes it more difficult for us to recruit and retain highly-qualified OB-GYN providers,” Bohannan said. “The whole irony of this is that women who really want to have children are going to be at risk for these kinds of emergencies.”

Another topic mentioned was Iowa’s lack of OB-GYN doctors in the state and the negative impacts this could have on reproductive care. According to a 2022 report from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the state of Iowa, the state has the lowest number of OB-GYN specialists per capita in the country.

Amy Sparks, the director of the UI’s in vitro fertilization and reproductive testing laboratories, attended the event and said accidentally destroying or damaging an embryo is somewhat common in fertility clinics because of how fragile they are.

Sparks said the recent proposed Iowa bill surrounding penalties for killing an “unborn person” still is concerning despite it not passing because of what it could mean for the future of in vitro fertilization treatment in the state.

“Infertility is bipartisan. A lot of people are affected, unfortunately,” Sparks said. “I hope that we continue to have access to build families [and] to all aspects of reproductive rights.”

Another attendee was Allison Bierman, who works as an admissions counselor for the UI’s School of Music. Bierman shared her experiences with in vitro fertilization, which she has been undergoing since 2017 to have a child.

As part of her journey with this treatment, Bierman said she had to have a medical abortion for her health and safety as a result of complications with her pregnancy.

Bierman said the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 scared her and the health care professionals she has seen as a part of this journey because of the impact it can have on pregnant individuals who need abortions to survive complications from being pregnant.

“I feel like, for me, the scariest part is when the people who you’re supposed to rely on — your health care professionals — are just as scared as you are, you don’t feel like they can be your support system. They feel just as lost as you,” Bierman said.

According to a March 2023 poll from the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, 61 percent of adults in Iowa believe abortion should be legal in all or most situations, and 35 percent believe abortions should be illegal in most or all situations.

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.