An Open Letter to Iowa’s Pro-Life Community



DSCN0406Dear Pro-Life Friends,

Every once in a while it becomes necessary for a movement to take a step back and ask itself some very important and fundamental questions. Questions like “What is our objective?” and “What are we doing to meet that objective?”

The pro-life movement is at such a point. After 40 years and 55 million disposed lives, it is insane for us to keep insisting on doing the same, incremental approach over and over again, and yet expect different results.  Ask any self-proclaimed pro-life activist or politician, “When does life begin?” They will answer, with rare exception, “At conception.”

Life begins at conception. Together, we all profess this truth. But professing belief in a truth and taking action on that truth are two entirely different things.

Since 1973, pro-life organizations have been aggressively trying to circumvent the egregious U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, all the while hoping to someday stack the court with pro-life justices that would lead to its eventual overturn. Despite all our efforts since then, this strategy has proved to have very little effect on ending abortion.

Perhaps instead of nibbling around the edges of Roe, we should have attacked it head on by using its own words against it. In his assenting opinion, Justice Henry Blackmun gives us the very antidote to his own decision: “If the state determines that a fetus is a person, then of course all protections of the 14th Amendment apply.”

Here are the keys to victory over Roe: If a state establishes personhood, then the justification and rationale for abortion collapses.

Last month, my good friend and fellow legislator, Representative Tom Shaw, introduced a bill (House File 138) that would define personhood in the State of Iowa as beginning at the moment of conception.

This bill states nothing more than what we in the pro-life community have been saying for the past 4 decades, what we have known biblically for millennia, and what modern science has been able to corroborate through the advances of technology: Life begins at conception.

As someone who firmly believes that life begins at conception, and as a newly minted legislator in the Iowa House of Representatives, I was proud to be the very first co-sponsor of this bill. I was also very pleased when seven other colleagues co-sponsored this bill as well.

Now that we have legislation in the Iowa House of Representatives that will codify the very truth that we claim we believe, something very odd and very noticeable is missing from the picture: Support from several prominent pro-life, pro-family groups in Iowa. Why?

This is what we believe as pro-lifers, right? Life begins at conception, right? We want to see an end to the slaughter of innocent life, right? Then why do some pro-life organizations sit silent?

I happen to know that House File 138 hasn’t slipped by unnoticed given the volume of emails I’ve received as a co-sponsor of the bill.

I’ve been told that one of the absent pro-life groups is concerned about the “messaging” of the bill. Really? The message of House File 138 is that life begins at conception and that the life of the child in the womb should be afforded all the rights, privileges, and equal protection that every other life is afforded under our country’s founding documents.

Are we really afraid of that message? Or are we afraid of the narrative used by the abortion industry that characterizes us falsely? We say that we believe in life at conception. Why not act upon it? Why not make a public stand for it?

As the legislative “funnel” deadline draws near, this is not a time for timidity and seclusion. For those pro-life organizations that have chosen to sit on the sidelines, your absence is more noticeable than your presence. Your silence speaks volumes.

To see the list of organizations that have registered their declaration on House File 138 please go here.

Please go to this link to see if your pro-life organization has weighed in on House File 138. If they haven’t, then maybe they need to hear from you. You should know what their justification is for being silent on a bill that defines life as beginning at conception.

We should not expect God to bless our efforts in this battle if we are unwilling to have the courage to stand on our convictions, and if we are unwilling to back up our words with action.

Either you believe that life begins at conception or you don’t. If you don’t believe it, then have the courage to admit it. But if you are out there boldly proclaiming it, then stand by it. Don’t waver. Lead the charge (or at least come along when the charge is being led by others).

I submit to you that if you are not willing to defend life beginning at conception, then you really don’t believe in it.

Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Choose this day where you will stand on recognizing personhood for the unborn. I have staked out my position. How about you?

Respectfully submitted,

Greg Heartsill

Photo by Sarah Brooks

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Comments

  1. Roger Mall says

    Representative Heartsil — citation please regarding this attributed quote. “If the state determines that a fetus is a person, then of course all protections of the 14th Amendment apply.” Just to do a cursory check I scanned the Roe decision and I do not find that wording. I will be very happy to stand corrected.

    Horribly, Sections IX -XII, pages 156 – 166 are the main operative parts of the Roe decision. The court primarily relied on the 14th Amendment. By the courts interpretation in a convoluted mishmash it essentially held that the Constitution does not allow a state to ban abortion based on a theory of life it disagreed with. Of course it was an exercise of “raw judicial power” an actual quote from a dissent, statutory definitions of personhood notwithstanding . . . indeed Wisconsin had a personhood statute at the time of Roe.

    Under our system of law we were left with changing the Constitution, overturning Roe and Doe by changing the court, ameliorating the impact of the decision through continued appeals to the SCOTUS and by saving as many babies as we can when we can. Contrary to your suggestion we have been considerably successful at the later two approaches and while the Roe decision was 7-2 we believe it is no longer such a difficult ratio for improving legal protection for the right to life at all stages of human existence.

    Furthermore, from day one, right to life organizations embarked on building support for a Human Life Amendment to the US Constitution, the only vehicle that would assuredly protect unborn human life by sustainable law. Nevertheless we see incremental legislation expanding the scope of protections as practical life saving measures in and of themselves, but even more importantly, as a public educational methodology toward ultimate protection for the right to life of all unborn members of the human family from conception onward. They are steps towards a Human Life Amendment. That goal will be achieved in part through that methodology of exposing the Roe v Wade and Doe V Bolton decisions, however controlling but crumbling, for the horrid judicial decisions they are.

    Thank you for your servants heart and dedication to protection for the right to life of all.

  2. Patti Brown says

    When does conception occur? Well, that depends — it can occur within 30 minutes of coitus and it can occur several days after coitus. The exact moment of conception is a mystery to us. A woman could take a pregnancy test hours after the formation of the zygote — the fertilized egg. Conception does not occur every time a couple makes love, and it can take 5 to 7 days for a blood test to show an increase in HCG levels in a woman who has conceived. I believe, absolutely positively without doubt or hesitation that life begins at conception, but I think that there is a threshold between the initial formation of human life and the ability of science at this time to confirm that life has indeed been created. This period of uncertainty will prove difficult for a personhood law to address, particularly related to the use of RU-486 (Satan had to have a hand in naming this horrible pill — “Are you for 86-ing life in the womb?”). I applaud the effort to defend life. I also see the legal, ethical, moral and spiritual challenges that are part of this public debate.