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Deborah Turner

Deborah Turner
President in Memoriam

Deborah Turner, MD, JD, served as the 20th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and chair of the Board of Trustees of the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF). She was elected board president at the 55th National Convention of the League of Women Voters in June of 2022 and served until her passing in January 2024.

Dr. Turner joined the Des Moines Metropolitan League in 2010 and became president in 2011 when the League was at risk of disbanding. She served in that role until 2015 helping revitalize membership and focus the board leadership. At the same time, she also served on the LWV Iowa board as the state vice president from 2011 to 2015, becoming co-president in 2015. In her dual roles with state and local Leagues, Deborah has provided leadership to strengthen relationships between local leagues and the state Board.  

Turner was elected to the League’s national board of directors in 2016, where she served on the Finance committee, Governance Committee, and chaired the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. As chair of the DEI Committee, Deborah and her colleagues focused on organizational culture changes to the League’s mission work, emphasizing not only racial equity but also intergenerational dynamics, socioeconomic differences, gender identity, and interpersonal engagement.  

Dr. Turner received her BS from Iowa State University and her MD from the University of Iowa where she completed her Residency in OB-Gyn. She completed her fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Institute in Houston Texas. She practiced gynecologic oncology for 35 years, enhancing university programs at the University of Nebraska, the University of Iowa, and the Medical College of Wisconsin teaching residents and students. She also served the private sector, bringing her specialty to Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, IA, Mercy Cancer Center in Mason City, IA, and Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. In July 2015, she left active practice to become Vice President of International Programs Medical Programs of The Outreach Program. She participated in twelve medical missions to Tanzania since 2011 and worked with Singida’s Medical Center, Outreach’s Children’s Feeding Centers, and Rotary International. She received her JD from Drake University in 2007. She has served as Associate Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of North Central States since 2016.

Turner was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013 and received the Gertrude Rush Award from the National Bar Association in 2015. She was awarded the Louise Noun Visionary Women of the Year award from the Young Women's Resource Center Des Moines in 2018. Her most treasured award is a certificate from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care. In 2022, Fortune Magazine named her a "Marquis Who's Who" top professional for her work with LWV.

Dr. Turner lived in Iowa and had two grown children – a son and a niece. 

Our president, the late Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, shared many moments of wisdom. We hope these will inspire you in the days to come.

When I look at everything people have done this year to protect and uplift every person’s voice, I find so much to be thankful for. 

This is for the election workers, voters, and League volunteers who empowered voters and defended democracy this year.

There is only one way we can ensure that the promise of democracy is kept: by fervently participating in our nation’s political processes, ensuring our voices are heard. 

Last year’s SCOTUS decision repealing the right to abortion continues to affect millions of people nationwide. Yet while most of us are familiar with its impact on family planning, I wonder if we all understand the full repercussions on every aspect of our lives? 

One year ago today, the Supreme Court of the US took away our right to bodily autonomy. 

LWV President Dr. Deborah Turner launches her three-part blog series about the impact of Dobbs and other anti-abortion legislation with a look at the medical impact of anti-abortion laws.

In a groundbreaking year, you rallied, donated, wrote representatives, and voted to defend a democracy in which all voters can safely and fairly make their voices heard.

Here are a few highlights.

LWVUS board president and Planned Parenthood North Central States medical director, Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, made the following remarks in response to the Supreme Court of the US's decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

COVID-19 brought pain, loss, and loneliness, but in the case of our democracy, it also brought important lessons. We saw firsthand how we could make our democracy available to more voters, honoring the voices of low-income, BIPOC, disabled, and other Americans. We must build on this knowledge and not waste it or use it to restrict the voter further.

Our nation is at a crucial turning point, how we proceed will determine whether our democracy survives. Our system of government is fractured, but the will of the people is strong. We don’t have a reputation for backing down and we will not give up now. Quite the opposite. 

Just as our advocacy led, directly or indirectly, to all the gains mentioned above, our actions can save our democracy in this pivotal moment. 

The journey to enshrine equal rights among the sexes in the US Constitution has been a long one. But this year the ERA is closer than ever to taking its rightful place in the supreme law of our nation.