DES MOINES, Iowa – State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, seeks the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, for the fourth time. She ran in 2008, 2010, and 2014.
The 64-year-old ophthalmologist and Army veteran and has faced skepticism of her pro-life record in previous election cycles.
In 2008, during her first run for Congress, Iowa Right to Life did not endorse Miller-Meeks because she did not turn in a survey sent to all state and federal candidates. Kim Lehman, executive director of Iowa Right to Life at the time who also was Iowa’s National Republican Committeewoman, questioned her pro-life credentials. Lehman was roundly criticized by several Republicans in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, including current Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, for not backing the Republican nominee.
In 2014, Iowa Right to Life under the leadership of executive director Jenifer Bowen left her off their list of preferred candidates as well. In 2018, Bowen leading Life Right Action did not endorse her candidacy in Iowa Senate District 41.
In the Republican primary, Miller-Meeks is running against former Illinois Congressman Bobby Schilling who moved to the district in 2016 and decided to run when U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, announced his retirement.
Schilling told The Daily Iowan he hoped to appeal to the district’s Republican voters “by focusing on abortion and second amendment issues.”
“He challenged Miller-Meeks’ conservative record on those issues, describing himself as more of a ‘constitutionalist’ candidate,” they reported.
Miller-Meeks also supports exceptions for rape and incest, something that many mainstream pro-life organizations do not endorse, but are accepted by many within the Republican establishment and President Donald Trump.
Caffeinated Thoughts during a podcast interview last Monday asked her to address the skepticism.
“Well I think my record on this has been very clear. I’ve been vetted numerous times. I have been endorsed by Susan B. Anthony. I have been endorsed by Maggie’s List. I am pro-life. I am Catholic. Just my personal life, my children did Teenagers-in-Action in Preventing Pregnancy when they were in high school,” Miller-Meeks said.
Caffeinated Thoughts confirmed with Susan B. Anthony List that their group never endorsed her in any previous election and the only congressional candidate they have endorsed in Iowa this cycle so far is State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race.
Campaign spokesman Eric Woolson told Caffeinated Thoughts that Miller-Meeks misspoke, that she had filled out a survey of theirs in the past and that is why the group came to mind during the interview.
During the interview also pointed to her record in the Iowa Senate where she was a co-sponsor of SJR 9, in response to the Iowa Supreme Court striking down the 72-hour abortion waiting period and a district court judge struck down the fetal heartbeat abortion ban shortly after.
The proposed constitutional amendment states, “The Constitution of the State of Iowa does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
Miller-Meeks voted for the amendment in the Senate State Government Committee that passed it out of committee, but the amendment (that became SJR 21) never received a vote in full Senate last session. It can still be passed in the 2020 session and must pass in the concurrent General Assembly before Iowans can vote on it.
She also said she voted to strip Planned Parenthood funding out of the human services appropriation bill.
Miller-Meeks also told Caffeinated Thoughts that she supports bills like the fetal heartbeat abortion ban (that passed in the Iowa Legislature and was signed into law the session before she was elected to the Iowa Senate) with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
She also said fighting abortion isn’t enough, but there also needs to be a focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies.
“In our desire to have abortion ended, we need to continue to look at preventing pregnancy and education and helping young women. I’ve contributed to organizations like the Covenant House that helps pregnant women, pregnant teenagers, and talk about adoption and how we can help women to, number one, avoid pregnancy, reduce promiscuity, and allow them to know there is hope for them; that there is a lifestyle with education, with training, that can improve their circumstances, those things that lead to unwanted pregnancies. We need to do as much as we can to help young women and young men to know that this is a tremendous responsibility and that we don’t want abortion, but we are also there to help them navigate through very difficult circumstances in their lives,” Miller-Meeks said.
Listen to the full interview here.