I learned on Thursday that there was not just one personhood bill filed in the Iowa House, but two. The bill we have heard the most about I initially reported and then State Representative Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas) plugged this morning is House File 138 sponsored by State Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens).
I want to be very clear here. I support personhood because I believe life begins at conception. I don’t agree with the all-or-nothing strategy, but the everything plus the kitchen sink approach (including personhood). I do have concerns with Shaw’s bill, namely it criminalizes mothers which I’m not sure I want to do carte blanche. That doesn’t mean I oppose the bill, but would like to have a discussion on whether that’s the best approach. There’s hardly consensus on that. There is consensus on criminalizing abortionists however and I think that is common ground that should be focused on.
Perhaps that could be remedied via amendment, but like I said I don’t oppose the bill.
There is another personhood bill in the Iowa House that has been overlooked.
State Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) sponsored House File 171. It is co-sponsored by State Representatives Jared Klein, Kevin Koester, Jason Schultz, Dan Huseman, Mark Brandenburg, Dean Fisher, Larry Sheets, John Landon, Mary Ann Hanusa, Mark Costello, and Sandy Salmon.
The primary difference with this bill is that it doesn’t criminalize mothers – “Finally, under the bill, a crime against a person who has not yet been born shall only be charged against the principal actor of the criminal conduct. The bill defines ‘principle actor’ for the purposes of the bill and provides that a pregnant woman is not to be considered a principal actor.”
I understand some will be unsatisfied with that, but you need to decide what is more important personhood or criminalizing mothers? In my mind, House File 171 has better language, and will garner more support. All of the prolife groups with lobbyists at the State House have indicated support of this bill. I favor this bill over Shaw’s.
Windschitl also has sponsored a bill banning telemed abortions – House File 173. I would hope you would support that bill as well.
Other bills dealing with abortion – State Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) has an abortion ban, Senate File 253, which technically isn’t a personhood bill, but from what I’ve read has the same effect. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong. Due to the make-up of the Iowa Senate it is unlikely to even make it out of subcommittee.
I’ve heard a rumor that State Senator Dennis Guth (R-Klemme) may file a personhood bill as well.
Anyway I thought it was important to dispel the notion that there is only one personhood bill filed. When State Representative Heartsill indicated that organizations not signed on to Shaw’s bill (Iowa Right to Life and Concerned Women of America have not registered on this bill) are not in favor of personhood that is simply false as both are supportive of House File 171. If that were the case then Iowa Pro-Life Action is against personhood as well since they don’t support Windschitl’s bill, but that would be equally inaccurate.
Let’s get past the useless rhetoric. The difference between these two bills is the criminalization of mothers. If that is important to you, by all means, support Shaw’s bill. If it isn’t, then support Windschitl’s. I’m afraid most of the discussion centered around this isn’t about personhood, but personalities involved.
Update: Iowa Right to Life issues a statement on the various personhood bills filed this session.