State Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) authored House File 138, a personhood bill, which would prohibit abortion from the moment of conception. The bill’s language essentially changes the definition of “person” in the Iowa Code 707.1 which defines murder. The new definition reads:
“Person”,when referring to the victim of a murder, means an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.
It then defines abortion as murder including the use of abortion-inducing drugs. State Representative Shaw believes the bill is constitutional.
“What the bill does is it defines what a person is,” says Representative Tom Shaw, a Republican from Laurens who is the bill’s lead sponsor.
“We put it right underneath our murder statute. This is in keeping with Roe v Wade where Justice Blackman said that if the state ever defined the fetus to be a person, then, of course, it would have all the protections of the 14th amendment. He went on to say the case against abortion would collapse.”
According to Shaw, the bill takes a “new approach” to trying to outlaw abortion.
“We just kind of sat down and thought, ‘We’re making this way too hard. We should be following what the Supreme Court said in their opinion,’” Shaw says. “And so the bill just merely defines who a person is and it defines a person from the moment of conception when the zygote is formed until natural death.”
The bill is co-sponsored by eight other Republicans: State Representatives Dwayne Alons (R-Hull), Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas), Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), Rob Bacon (R-Maxwell), Larry Sheets (R-Moulton), Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), Joel Fry (R-Osceola), and Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville).
The bill’s fate in the House is uncertain, but it will more than likely fail in the Democrat-controlled Senate.