Oct 7, 2022 - Politics

Abortion rights takes center stage as Iowa's Cindy Axne and Zach Nunn debate

Zach Nunn and Cindy Axne

Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn (left) and U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (right) debate on KCCI Thursday night. Screenshot via KCCI

Democratic U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and Republican challenger, Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn, sparred in their first televised debate Thursday evening with abortion rights taking center stage.

Why it matters: Iowa's 3rd Congressional District race is one of the tightest races in the country. Cook Political Report narrowly ranked it as "leans Republican" as of Wednesday.

  • Based on the new district lines drawn in 2021, Former President Trump who lost the district, would have narrowly won.
  • Axne won in 2020 by less than 1.5 percentage points.

Driving the news: Abortion rights prompted the most heated portion of the debate with Axne asserting all decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor.

  • She said she supported the Women's Health Protection Act as a way to codify Roe v. Wade.

Meanwhile, Nunn said he is "pro-life," but supports allowing women to get an abortion in the case of rape, incest and fetal abnormalities. He believes it's up to states to determine abortion rights.

  • Nunn said he supported the MOMS Program, a bill that passed the Iowa Legislature this year that provides $500K in funding to centers that provide abortion alternatives.

Where they disagreed: Both candidates accused each other of being disingenuous about their stances. Axne accused Nunn of being against all abortions, but he disagreed and has said one of her ads puts his beliefs out of context.

  • Nunn condemned Axne, saying she supported all abortions right up to birth because of her support of the Women's Health Protection Act. She said his assertion was "offensive" and the Act only allows late-term abortions if the mother's life is at risk.

Of note: Iowa PBS also hosted a Senate debate between Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley and challenger Mike Franken. You can watch it here.


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