ACLU of Iowa Honors Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Des Moines Attorney Glen Downey

Affiliate: ACLU of Iowa
July 24, 2017 3:00 pm

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Des Moines, Iowa — The ACLU of Iowa is pleased to announce that it is giving its first-ever Partners in Liberty Award to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. It is also pleased to announce that Des Moines attorney Glen Downey will receive the Dan Johnston Cooperating Attorney Award.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland

The Partners in Liberty award recognizes significant civil liberties contributions and leadership by an organization or coalition. It is an award richly deserved this year by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Despite overwhelming challenges over the past several months, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has stayed focused on delivering quality, affordable health care to Iowa women.

From seemingly all directions this year, the crucial services offered by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland were under assault. In the Iowa Legislature, multiple bills were introduced, each designed to restrict a woman’s fundamental right to reproductive services, including abortion. With the help of ally organizations, including the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood was able to rally its impressive number of supporters and defeat some of the worst.

However, unfortunately, legislation was passed that all but eliminates the possibility of an abortion for a woman in Iowa after 20 weeks. Legislators also were successful in passing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, requiring women to wait 72 hours to obtain an abortion and also to make a second, medically unnecessary clinic visit before obtaining an abortion.

All the while, Planned Parenthood was fighting off defunding efforts both at the state and national levels, and ultimately had to close four Iowa health centers.

Undaunted, it is now the plaintiff in a lawsuit, represented by the ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, challenging the constitutionality of the 72-hour forced waiting period and second unnecessary clinic visit.

For more than 80 years, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has been a stalwart defender of a woman’s right to control her body and therefore her life. This dovetails with the ACLU’s ongoing commitment to uphold the rights of individuals to make reproductive choices freely, without government hindrance or coercion. The ACLU strives to ensure that all in our society have access to sexuality education, contraception, abortion, prenatal care, and childbearing assistance.

Mark Stringer, ACLU of Iowa executive director, said, “We value Planned Parenthood’s unwavering contributions to reproductive health for all people. We look forward to continuing to partner with this essential organization to protect women’s rights and reproductive freedom in Iowa.”

Glen Downey Receives Dan Johnston Award

Glen Downey of the Downey & Mundy Law Firm in Des Moines, has been selected to receive the Dan Johnston Cooperating Attorney award. The Dan Johnston Award is an annual award which honors those who make sustained and extraordinary contributions to civil liberties through their work as ACLU of Iowa volunteer attorneys.

ACLU volunteer attorneys are essential to the work the ACLU does. Its staff and funding is limited, so the success of our legal program depends greatly on the generous participation of our volunteer attorneys from around the state, who volunteer their time, expertise, advice, and resources.

Mr. Downey worked with the ACLU of Iowa to represent a Knoxville teenager who was threatened with criminal charges of sexual exploitation of a child—herself—for sending two suggestive photos of herself, which depicted no nudity, to another teen. That case was successfully settled earlier this month.

In 2016, Mr. Downey also worked to advance free speech in the state of Iowa by quickly getting charges of flag desecration dropped after a veteran, Homer Martz, was charged for hanging the U.S. flag upside down on his own property in Calhoun County to protest the Bakke pipeline.

Mr. Downey is a member of the ACLU of Iowa Legal Committee, assisting in case evaluation and development.

The Dan Johnston Cooperating Attorney Award is named in memorial of the long-time Des Moines and Washington D.C. attorney. As his first lawsuit fresh out of Drake Law School in the late 1960s, he represented the Tinker family in their landmark free speech lawsuit against the Des Moines Schools in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He went on to a distinguished legal career, fighting for the fundamental rights of all Americans. Mr. Johnston passed away in 2016, and this award was created that same year in his honor.

Recognition at the ACLU of Iowa Bill of Rights Brunch

Both Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Glen Downey will receive their awards at the ACLU of Iowa Bill of Rights Brunch on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. More information can be found at

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The ACLU of Iowa is a private, non-partisan organization that fights to advance civil liberties for all. It is the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU prides itself in upholding everyone’s civil liberties, no matter who they are or what they believe. We work to assure the rights of all Iowans—from atheists to devout Christians, from labor unions to businesspeople and more—to make sure the constitutional rights of all are preserved. For more information, please go to

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