DES MOINES -- This month marks the anniversary of the landmark 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions and abortion opponents say 41 years later they're still fighting to end the practice.
"We have not been silent in the last 41 years and we will not be silent until abortion ends in Iowa and in the country," said Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life.
More than 80 participants braved the freezing rain and wind for the second annual Midwest March for Life rally on the steps of the capitol in Des Moines Saturday, which concluded in front of the Iowa Supreme Court building. Participants huddled together under umbrellas holding signs that read "stop abortion now" and "I stand for life" in their mitten-covered hands.
Bowen said abortion opponents are ready to lobby lawmakers this legislative session, which kicked off last week, and look to propose a series of bills to restrict abortions. She said the push to end telemedicine abortions, where doctors can prescribe abortion-inducing pills through a video-conferencing system, is "one of our very top legislative priorities this legislative session."
Last year the Iowa Board of Medicine voted to restrict telemedicine abortions. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit in response stating such rules could create barriers for women seeking health care in Iowa. The organization's CEO Jill June said in a statement last year the decision was a "ruling based on politics and will unjustly hurt Iowa women."
Bowen said she's seen more than 30,000 Iowans, of both pro-life and pro-choice stances, sign a petition to stop webcam abortions in the state.
"[They] have signed our petition saying, 'No more, we're not okay with this,'" Bowen said. Iowa Right to Life and other organizations will hold a rally inside the capitol rotunda on Feb. 17 and lobby legislators.
Sue Martinek, president of the Coalition for Life of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, said a similar rally will be held on Sunday in Cedar Rapids. The rally will begin at 2 p.m. at St. Matthew's Catholic Church and participants will march to Planned Parenthood office.
She said events like the weekend rally and workshop sessions throughout the day help raise awareness about the alternatives to abortion in a situation of an unplanned pregnancy.
"I hope more people are aware of what's going on and maybe open their heart just a little bit to changing their opinion and instead of saying it's a woman's right, let's think about the baby's right," Martinek said.
"Let's respect life at all stages," she said. "From conception to natural death."