DES MOINES, Iowa -- Governor Kim Reynolds has no plans to appeal the decision a Polk County judge made to strike down the "fetal heartbeat' bill earlier this year. The bill would have banned abortions after six weeks. Meanwhile, more than a half-dozen states have passed anti-abortion legislation so far this year.
Data shows even without the ban, the number of abortions has steadily declined in Iowa over the last five years. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 2,849 abortions were performed in 2018. The majority of those who received the procedure were college-educated white women in their twenties who lived in the state's most densely populated counties like Polk, Linn, and Black Hawk.
As divisive as the topic is, two central Iowa women say abortion was a real option for them when they were younger but admit their perspectives have changed.
"I got pregnant at 15 and I had to decide if I had to keep this baby or not," says Amy Babcock. She decided to keep her baby and cancel her abortion appointment at Planned Parenthood. Babcock who grew up believing abortions were unacceptable says her change of heart came when she got pregnant. She tells Channel 13, ending her pregnancy was a viable option because she felt she was too young to care for a baby. Having grown up in the foster care system, she wasn't comfortable placing the child into foster care or giving it up for adoption. Babcock believes abortion is situational and there's no black and white scenario to have one. "I went through a lot of feelings about it and I still do have a lot of feelings about it. I feel like it should be up to whoever it is. It's their situation. It's their life."
For Kim Lehman, the decision to end her pregnancy has stuck with her since she was in her twenties. "I remember lying on the table and they got started. It hurt so much I begged them to stop the machine and they did but said they had to finish. It was horrific," she describes.
Lehman regrets having that abortion and now considers herself a pro-life advocate. Her thoughts on abortion changed after her own procedure left her in a downward spiral of deep regret and self-harm. She says she wasn't educated on fetal development at the time.
"I wish every woman had been given an opportunity to know the facts. I know, had someone told me, my baby would still be alive," Lehman tells Channel 13. She now calls abortions selfish and convenient and believes the procedure is a moral crime. "If someone gets into a car accident with a pregnant woman and the baby dies, that person is going to be convicted. But a woman can drive down to a clinic and kill her baby," she says.
Lehman argues, no one wins with abortion however Babcock says carrying an unwanted baby to full-term isn't always the best solution for some women. "We can`t make people into good parents. Everyone always says adoption is the right answer but you have to trust people that they are not going to hurt their baby for nine months and people do," shrugs Babcock.
Pro-choice advocates worry if an abortion ban were to ever pass in Iowa, women would find unsafe ways to carry out an abortion. Although Reynolds has decided not to appeal the ruling, she says she plans to find other ways to protect unborn babies.