What is better? To ban some abortions or ban none because just banning some is incrementalism and not prolife enough? That is a debate that is happening at the Iowa Statehouse and on the air waves. Eric wrote on Tuesday about the battle for life at the Iowa Statehouse especially surrounding the first prolife bill this session on the docket – House File 5. This bill in effect bans all abortions beyond 20 weeks with certain exceptions. It would keep Dr. Leroy Carhart from setting up shop in Council Bluffs, IA. It is a good bill, and it is a first step.
Tuesday evening, Steve Deace on his program Deace in the Afternoon on WHO Radio complained about the bill that was introduced by State Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley). He said that this was a bill that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) liked better than some prolifers.
Really? Gronstal has not said he would support this bill. He has given no support. All he has told prolife groups lobbying at the capitol is that he would look at it.
Yes, what a statement of support! Now before you think there is something nefarious with Gronstal’s willingness to do this consider that Dr. Leroy Carhart would be camped out in his back yard. Do you not thing he has been listening to his constituents? There were large rallies early on when the news about Carhart’s intentions became known. I don’t think that was lost on Gronstal. Maybe it was, who knows? But cast doubt on a bill because Gronstal is looking at it is misleading. No all he has publically stated is that the bill would be given “due consideration.”
Now about those prolifers who don’t like this bill. Who? These groups? (Americans United for Life, Operation Rescue, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life Committee, Iowans for Life, the Iowa Catholic Conference, Dubuque County Right To Life, Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, and Catholic and Protestant activists from the Council Bluffs area) Nope. They are all in favor of this bill. The FAMiLY Leader has currently registered that it is non decided.
Steve Deace identified one, and The Iowa Republican identified another who can in effect keep this bill from even getting out of the House Human Resources committee – State Representatives Kim Pearson (R-Pleasant Hill) and Glen Massie (R-Des Moines). There are 21 members of this committee – 12 Republicans and 9 Democrats. The bill needs 11 votes to make it out of committee. Right now there are 10 votes.
Why don’t they support this bill? Because it represents incrementalism. Because it doesn’t go far enough. Because it is based on the fetal pain argument.
Another reason given is the exception in the bill. Deace and his show contributor, Jen Green, bring up in the past a “health of the mother” clause always sunk the effective of certain prolife bills. I share that concern as the health of the mother could be interpreted to such a way that practically any woman seeking an abortion could be justified having one. That isn’t the case with this bill. The bill reads:
“Medical emergency” means a condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of the human pregnancy to avert the woman’s death or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. “Medical emergency” does not include a condition which is based on a claim or diagnosis that the pregnant woman will engage in conduct which would result in the pregnant woman’s death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. (emphasis mine)
This provides a strict definition of what is allowed and not allowed, and actually corrects a loophole in current Iowa law. Also important to note the circumstance this presents it is more likely that the mother’s OB/GYN would opt for an early delivery considering our ability to deliver neo-natal care. Further on the bill reads:
If an abortion is performed or induced under this subsection, the physician shall terminate the human pregnancy in the manner which, in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless, in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment, termination of the human pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk than any other available method of the death of the pregnant woman or of the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. A greater risk shall not be deemed to exist if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the pregnant woman will engage in conduct which would result in the pregnant woman’s death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. (emphasis mine)
Also I find interesting is that this bill restricts where these abortions are allowed – “where medical care is provided to any person.” I read that to mean no abortion clinics.
Other objections I heard on his show and elsewhere.
1. Prolife groups and legislators are conceding ground and giving up and it is only the 2nd week of the General Assembly.
The coalition that Eric described on Tuesday have been planning this for months. This is a first step in their strategy. They wanted an early victory. This doesn’t mean it will be the only prolife legislation they will support.
2. Fetal pain argument is a liberal argument.
Really? Do we not believe preborn babies experience pain? Can we not reference current medical knowledge in legislation? Nowhere in this bill does it deny personhood, and in the introduction of the bill it lays out the risks of abortion. So all prolife legislation not referencing personhood is wrong? That’s ridiculous.
3. Why are they not supporting a personhood bill?
No such bill has been written – it is hard to register or cosponsor a bill that hasn’t been written yet. Also no prolife legislator or group has ever said they wouldn’t support it or work to prevent it from happening. Go for it. I’ll personally cheer it on. Is it not possible for legislators to support multiple prolife bills? I think so.
Steve Deace claims to “tell the truth” on his show, but he has mislead his listeners in several instances regarding this bill.
Representatives Pearson and Massie, I am not a fan of incrementalism either. I would love to see a personhood bill passed. I also know that this particular bill has the best shot at passing the Senate (not guaranteed). So let’s get this passed, and then continue to work on other prolife legislation. House File 5 will save innocent preborn children. It is a principled vote, don’t let it die in committee because it isn’t your ideal bill.