Iowa’s legislature will kick off a special session Tuesday aimed at banning abortion in most cases after about six weeks of pregnancy, elevating the issue in a state blanketed by 2024 presidential contenders who have sought to avoid the kinds of specifics the Republican-led state House and Senate are poised to consider.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds called for the special session as GOP officials there seek to implement rules in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade reversal that had existed, but been stymied by courts in the Hawkeye State, for five years.
The special session could force the GOP’s field of 2024 presidential candidates who are courting voters in the state whose caucuses kick off the nominating process to address in specific terms their positions on whether and when abortion should be prohibited.
Some GOP candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence – who has placed his advocacy for nationwide abortion restrictions at the forefront of his presidential run – could see Iowa’s special session as an opening to draw a contrast with rivals in a state where evangelical voters will be key to the outcome of the party’s caucuses.
“We must not rest and we must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state in this country,” Pence said last month at the Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, DC. “Every Republican candidate for president should support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard.”
But others, while touting their own pro-life bona fides, have been less committal when asked about a federal role in restricting abortion rights.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban into law in his state in April – a move he made with little fanfare, announcing it had been signed with a late-night news release. He has defended that measure. However, DeSantis has been less clear about where he stands on a national abortion ban.
So have other Republican 2024 contenders.
Former President Donald Trump suggested in May that the Florida measure signed by DeSantis was “too harsh.”