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Zumbach on Protesting

Alex Zumbach

Alex Zumbach

Alex Zumbach, Staff

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My experiences at the Iowa State Capitol were eye opening to say the least. On the third week of session, a large number of Iowa citizens exercised their right to free speech when they came to protest. Many Capitol employees mentioned it was the largest they could remember.

Senate File Two would eliminate government funding for entities providing abortions such as Planned Parenthood. This bill would prevent federal dollars from going to any institution that provides abortions. It does not make abortions illegal, and places like Planned Parenthood will still be able to provide abortions but without federal dollars. Other institutions which provide women’s health services other than abortions would still receive funding.

Because this bill was brought sub-committee, over 150 Iowa citizens gathered at the Capitol to display their passion against this file. The large protest filled the meeting room where the bill was being discussed as well as the office next to it.

Free speech is a fundamental right secured by the U.S. Constitution and is essential so citizens can speak out against the government. In this instance, however, the protest was more of a nuisance than political activism. Bills in sub-committee are hardly guaranteed to become law. The chanting, yelling, and singing of the protesters disrupted the capitol employees who simply wanted to get a cup of coffee, file papers, and make copies.

While many of the protesters were extremely civil and respectful and did everything they could to not be obstructive, several of the protesters were quite rude to capitol staff. Some of the protesters went as far as to trip employees on their way to lunch because the staff member refused to support them and sing along. All capital employees are supposed to remain bipartisan while working in the Capitol since they are servants to the public and not to a political group so pages and other employees cannot chant along with protesters.

The shift in senate control was the reason for the large protest. Voters spoke loudly this November and gave Republicans control of the House and Senate. With this new majority and the Governorship, Republicans now hold both legislative and executive power in Iowa. Before this new majority, bills would often die between the two legislative houses and never become law.

It is unlikely the presence of the protestors will have much influence on the passage of the bill. Conservative principle, which most Republicans agrees to, dictates every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” per the Declaration of Independence. Conservatives use this as justification to not fund abortions, which they believe take away a baby’s right to life.

I realized how important it is to express what is important to you before the election so you can help elect the senator that you agree the most with, rather than speaking up after the fact. Having protesters and controversial bills going through is more exciting to witness than waiting for something to happen no matter what side you are on.

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Zumbach on Protesting