Grassley, Blackburn celebrate legislation benefiting women

Caleb McCullough | Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said his work on women’s health care and legislation helping survivors of sexual assault shows a record of working for women.

Grassley was joined Wednesday by Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, in a West Des Moines rally. Blackburn and Grassley are both co-sponsors of the Speak Out Act, a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the enforcement of nondisclosure agreements when workers report sexual misconduct.

“Women, like everybody else, must be respected, and I’m fighting for justice for women who have been sexually assaulted and harrased,” Grassley said.

He pointed to bills he sponsored relating to how reports of sexual assault are handled in the military and on college campuses. Grassley also said he wrote a bill, the Healthy Moms and Babies Act, that would improve postpartum care in women, especially in rural America. The bill “will help reduce infant and maternal mortality by increasing access to prenatal and postpartum care, no matter where they live,” he said.

Blackburn said Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped get the Speak Out Act get through the committee. The committee passed the bill in September.

“This is something so important to women in the workplace, and I am absolutely so pleased that Senator Grassley stepped up, took the lead, and helped us to get this bill across the finish line,” she said.

The rally followed the Grassley campaign’s announcement of a “Women for Grassley Coalition,” a group of women from Iowa’s 99 counties supporting his re-election. Grassley has attempted to draw a distinction between himself and his Democratic challenger Milke Franken, who he accused of disrespecting women.

Franken, a former Navy admiral, faces an allegation that he kissed his former campaign manager without consent, according to an April police report. He denies the allegation and pointed to the fact that the report was closed as “unfounded.”

Grassley co-sponsored a 2019 bill that would have outlawed abortion at 20 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. As a former chair of the Judiciary Committee, he had a major hand in building the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court that overturned the federal right to an abortion in June.