As a multi-client lobbyist, I’ve focused primarily on religious liberty, parental rights, school choice, and education reform issues since I started lobbying in 2007. Most of my clients have had some interest in education and I have gotten to know the stakeholders involved from every side of the issue. I love working on the issue. I’ve always been open, however, to working on other issues as they are brought to me.
This year, I took on the Iowa Right To Life Committee (IRLC) as an additional client and am playing third-chair lobbyist to IRLC Executive Director Jenifer Bowen and longtime IRLC lobbyist Norm Pawlewski. I want to be clear that I am not a decision maker on the issue and am hired to represent IRLC’s interests and have a lot to learn on the subject. The following are my personal thoughts on the issue and are my thoughts alone:
Although I know it is an emotionally charged issue, I had no way of knowing just how divisive and emotional it can be. It has been a real pleasure, however, to work with a coalition of like-minded and passionate people who are, for the most part, seamlessly working together to save as many lives as possible this year. With the makeup of Iowa’s Legislature and Executive Branch, there is definitely progress that can be made but it there is also plenty of opposition from legislators and interest groups coming from every possible angle.
Although very new to the issue (from a lobbying standpoint at least), it’s been interesting to work with a coalition that includes 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’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, and Catholic and Protestant activists from the Council Bluffs area who are tirelessly working to ensure Dr. Carhart and his late-term abortion clinic doesn’t set up shop in SW Iowa. So far I’ve seen a group of individuals who are committed to treating each other and anyone else involved in the debate with dignity and who speak truth on the issue with love.
How often does such a large number of diverse groups get on the same page regarding legislative strategy? It isn’t that there aren’t detractors from both conservative and liberal circles regarding our tact and tactics (there always will be!), but working in unity with so many organizations that have been in the trenches on the issue for so long to save as many lives as possible is educational and encouraging.
There are many pro-life bills that will be introduced this year and, although we don’t have the resources to work on them all, I would love to see every one of them reach the Governor’s desk. They range from overarching bans to specific responses to unique and immediate crises that are impacting Iowa. Together IRLC and the other pro-life organizations in the state will be pushing for passage of Iowa House File 5, a bill by Rep. Matt Windschitl and co-sponsored by many others. It effectively ends abortions after 20 weeks and all but ensures that late-term abortion provider LeRoy Carhart will not be able to operate the way he’d want to in the state of Iowa. We owe Representative Windschitl a special thanks for being willing to lead the charge on this important issue and take the fiery darts that are and will be launched at him from every direction. It takes courage to champion any pro-life bill.
IRLC and the other pro-life groups at the capitol will also be supporting and championing other upcoming bills at the capitol and, if you are interested, you can get on the IRLC and the Iowa Catholic Conference’s email lists to keep up on the latest.
Representative Alons has a “personhood” bill that would effectively end all abortions in the state of Iowa if successfully held up in court. I have nothing but respect and love for Senator Sorensen, Representatives Alons, Pearson, and a few others who are working very hard to progress the personhood bill and hope you’ll pray with me for them. These are exciting times when we see good bills before an Iowa House that just might pass most or all of them! If we are successful along with Rep. Alons and others pursuing the personhood bill, it’ll be a great day for Iowa when Governor Branstad’s desk is covered with bills to sign that address immediate needs and perhaps even effectively end all state-sanctioned infanticide in our state once and for all. All of the groups I work with at the capitol are supportive of all the efforts to limit and/or end abortion in Iowa. We may not be able to work on every bill that does good work, but I trust God will bless our collective efforts and move the bills He wants as far as He wants them moved. Pray with us about this!
As an individual who has seen first-hand the difficult decisions pregnant women make regarding whether or not to keep a child, I always have been and always will be extremely passionate about the issue. My reformed theology and my personal conviction demand uncompromising action. My experience watching the ramifications of poor choices as a child and teenager living with an aunt and uncle who were missionaries in a home for unwed mothers has also prepared my heart for this role. I’ll never forget the look on those women’s faces when, against all odds and feelings, made the courageous choice to carry their baby to term and experienced the joy and relief that comes from making the choice for life. I covet your prayers as we seek, collectively, as pro-life lobbyists and activists, to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in the fight for the unborn. Regardless of the election results this past November, this is going to be far from easy. We must make sure Iowa doesn’t become the late-term abortion capitol of the Midwest. We must make sure Iowans are fully informed before they make decisions on life and death. And we must continue to work toward ending the state-sanctioned killing of the unborn once and for all.