image State Senator Kim Reynolds (R-Osceola), GOP Lt. Governor nominee, at a stop in Carroll, IA was asked by a reporter, Douglas Burns, for the Carroll Daily Times Herald to clarify her statement that she is pro-life and pro-family.

He writes:

Speaking at the Carroll Pizza Ranch, Reynolds fielded a question about gay marriage, now legal in Iowa.

“Well, I am pro-life, and I am pro-family,” Reynolds said.

Later, in an interview with the Daily Times Herald, Reynolds was asked to elaborate on those positions.

If her stance on abortion prevails, and it is criminalized again, what should the penalty be for a physician who performs an abortion or a woman who has one?

“Well, I think it would be equivalent to murder,” Reynolds said. “I would want to research that before I would lay specifically out what the penalties would be.”

If someone is stabbed to death in front of Pizza Ranch now is the culprit guilty of the same crime as a doctor who performs an abortion?

“No,” she said.

So if it’s a different kind murder then?

“I would want to take a look at that and make sure that I completely walked through that before I would say anything right now,” Reynolds said. “I’m not going to give an answer to that right now without thoroughly looking through that and making sure that I’m looking at both sides.”

If she’s strongly pro-life, why hasn’t Reynolds thought about the punishment component as criminalized abortion is the end game, the logical conclusion, of the pro-life movement?

“I don’t know if it needs to be the death penalty,” she said. “Is that what you’re asking me?”

Should the doctors and women involved in the abortion get a ticket, a fine, or should they be executed?

“I think that we would take a look and make sure that the punishment met the crime,” Reynolds said. “It would depend on the level of crime that was served. I would want to be sure to take a look at that before I gave an off-handed comment to that issue.”

On gay marriage, Reynolds said Iowa voters, not the state’s Supreme Court, should make the decision about its legality in the Hawkeye State.

How has gay marriage hurt Iowa so far? How have homosexuals who are married hurt this state? What are they doing to Iowa that’s troubling to Reynolds?

“I believe that the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman from a religious aspect,” Reynolds said. “That is my belief. I have stated that. I always have believed that.”

That considered, Reynolds said she would be open to the idea of civil unions for gay couples.

“We could take a look at civil unions,” Reynolds said. “There are other options maybe that I would be in favor of looking at.”

She added, “They can do civil unions. I think they can get to some of the same place that they want to look at.”

Reynolds said that as a citizen she would vote for a measure defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

“But the bottom line is this is an extremely important issue, and I believe that Iowans have a right to speak on that,” Reynolds said.

You can watch the interview here (which Burns provided at the Iowa Independent website).  Tim Albrecht, spokesperson for the Branstad/Reynolds campaign, responded to Senator Reynolds’ statement on civil unions in an email:

Sen. Reynolds’ position on civil unions mirrors that of Gov. Branstad’s. They do not favor state-sanctioned civil unions, but would not have the government step in to prevent private companies and entities from extending same-sex benefits if they so choose.

(Scratching my head)

That’s not what she said.  If she doesn’t favor state-sanctioned civil unions why would she say she is open to them?  There’s a disconnect there.

While on one hand I’m glad she believes that Iowans deserve to vote on the definition of marriage, when she said “the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman from a religious aspect” she failed to acknowledge that the definition of marriage has civil and not just religious implications.

She pretty much articulated what Governor Chet Culver believes in the matter, or at least says he believes regarding the definition of marriage.

Regarding her position on abortion I’m thankful for her strong stand.  The question regarding penalties is ridiculous since there are a variety of different situations to think through and different classifications.  Even murder itself is complicated when looking at the different charges and penalties.  So she was right not to provide a specific answer, but she fumbled around a bit.  It is obvious from the tone of the interview it was a “gotcha” type of interview with clear biased.  However, Senator Reynolds should have been ready.  She wasn’t.

She had a golden opportunity to build trust with social conservatives in this interview and we are left with a mixed bag.

Additional Thought: Regarding her statement on abortion, I’m also troubled by her inability to see at the very least the moral equivalency between an abortion and somebody getting stabbed outside Pizza Ranch.  Actually, abortion is worse in that in most cases the person outside Pizza Ranch can cry for help, fight back, etc.  An unborn baby can’t even do that.  Senator Reynolds’ position(s) do not appear to be undergirded with a well thought out worldview.

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  1. “If she’s strongly pro-life, why hasn’t Reynolds thought about the punishment component as criminalized abortion is the end game, the logical conclusion, of the pro-life movement?”

    Though I am not a politician, I have been active in the pro-life movement since the 1980s. I am not sure this is a fair conclusion from Burns question. No pro-lifer I know sees a ban on child murder in the near future. Of course, if we were moving towards a constitutional amendment the issue of punishment would have to be addressed.

    ““I don’t know if it needs to be the death penalty,” she said. “Is that what you’re asking me?”

    Should the doctors and women involved in the abortion get a ticket, a fine, or should they be executed?”

    Well we don’t have death penalty in Iowa for First Degree Murder now. So, it really is two questions wrapped in one. You would have to first ask the person if they believed in the death penalty for all first degree murder cases. (No state even comes close to that, most require all kinds of additional aggravating circumstances, and prosecutors often don’t seek it in cases that do qualify).

    Reynolds initial answer was instinctive: I think it would be equivalent to murder. That is a stronger statement than 75% of professing pro-life politicians would ever give. She sounds like an ally on this issue.

    As to civil unions, her answer is weak and not well thought out. Again, I doubt if most politicians and pundits could articulate a consistent position on this issue.

  2. Oh I totally disagree with forcing politicians to say abortion is murder and immediately start talking about criminalization. Abortion is awful, awful stuff. But the right to an abortion is the settled law of the land as of now.

    To put things in context: the plan to get rid of slavery before the Civil War was to stop its extension in the territories, thus creating more free states that would eventually vote slavery out of legality. In terms of slaveholders, they weren’t to be punished: around the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, plans were in place to compensate slaveholders in the Middle States for their slaves as the slaves were emancipated.

    Something similar has to happen with abortion. It is the law – you can’t just demand moral absolutism and condemn people as if the law doesn’t matter, not when we make the law, all of us. That’s willful ignorance of being a moral actor in a democracy (but pride in being a moral actor in a theocracy). My own thought is that getting politicians to take reducing the number of abortions seriously is a good first step, and creating a climate where people ask “is this really a choice, or something that should be avoided?” Unlike slavery, it is possible to conceive of a future where there are tons of abortion clinics, but no one uses them not because they’re bullied by protesters, but because they can see family and life as simply good things.

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