Late yesterday afternoon, the Iowa House passed House File 657 (formerly HF 5), the late term abortion ban which in effect bans all abortions after 20 weeks.  This bill was specifically designed to keep Dr. LeRoy Carhart from setting up shop in Council Bluffs, IA.  Carhart was considering moving his practice to Iowa when Nebraska passed a similar law.  The bill is based the scientific evidence that preborn children feel significant pain at that stage.

Jenifer Bowen, the Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life, said in an email to supporters that “After sharing in literally hundreds of conversations, phone calls and emails, I can say with confidence that the majority of Iowans do not want ours to become a safe-haven state for late-term abortion.”

A statewide coalition has worked diligently to ensure the passage of this bill and other prolife legislation that included Iowa Right to Life, Iowans for Life, Iowa Catholic Conference, Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, Council Bluffs Interfaith Coalition to Keep Carhart Out, and the Iowa Chapter of Concerned Women for America along with countless of prolife activists from across the state.  This coalition was absent one organizations – The FAMiLY Leader.

Danny Carroll and Chuck Hurley of The FAMiLY Leader sent an email shortly after the vote lamenting that a personhood amendment was not passed instead of rejoicing that a prolife bill had been passed.  They wrote:

The Iowa House had planned to debate an amendment to HF 656 (reporting waivers granted by judges for girls to abort their children) that would say:

The general assembly of this state finds all of the following:

a.      The life of each human being begins at conception.

b.      An unborn child has protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.

The House Republican leaders determined that this amendment, filed by Representative Glen Massie, would not be germane (relevant) to the bill and therefore would be out of order.  The Massie amendment was the second attempt at legislation designed to protect human life from conception.  Rep. Kim Pearson first offered HF 153 in the Human Services Committee, where it died.  So after two attempts, the House Republicans have failed to advance a bill to protect life at conception.  Is it not reasonable to ask why?  How can such a large majority of Republicans – 60 out of 100 – fail to advance a policy that most, if not all, say they support?  Indeed, the Republican Party Platform declares:

“We believe human life should be protected from conception to non-intervened natural death, excluding acts of capital punishment.” 

A few reasons why, 1. It wouldn’t pass the Iowa Senate, whereas other bills had the best chance to.  I personally would like to see the personhood bill passed, but … Reason 2. There is some concern among legal scholars about state personhood bills that they in fact could bring the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm Roe V. Wade which would be a huge legal setback.

Reason #1 is pretty weak and the House shouldn’t just pass legislation that Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstalling (D-Council Bluffs) approves of.  Reason #2 merits some discussion as to whether or not personhood bills should be pursued at the State level or if we need to pour our efforts into a Federal Amendment.

Now as to their bringing up the RPI Platform, I find it ironic that they fail to mention other platform planks that address life, specifically…

We support a “Woman’s Right to Know Law” requiring informed consent including a three day waiting period with a mandatory ultrasound before any elective abortion services may be provided. “Informed Consent” means that abortion providers must offer, prior to the abortion, complete factual information to the pregnant woman about the complications of abortion, the biological development of the unborn, fetal pain and the availability of alternatives to abortion.

We support legislation requiring consent by a parent or legal guardian before a minor child receives any medically related procedure. The Parental Consent Law should require proof of identity of the parent in order to protect children from continued abuse by sexual predators who pretend to be the parent taking their child for an abortion.

We call for banning partial birth abortions both at the federal and state levels

We call for facilities performing medical or chemical abortions to be subject to the same health and safety standards as hospitals.

…We call for confidential statistical reporting of abortion procedures to be reported to the State Health Department by all doctors and health facilities performing abortions.

Aren’t those incremental steps?  Shouldn’t then State Representatives Glenn Massie (R-Des Moines), Kim Pearson (R-Pleasant Hill), and Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) have voted in favor of the late term abortion ban?  Also, HF 656 would have advanced the platform plank for “confidential statistical reporting,” which was killed due to the addition of the personhood amendment.

As I have said before, the late term abortion ban does not codify abortion – it is already legal.  It prevents abortion.  Does it prevent all?  No, but neither does placing restrictions on medical or chemical abortions, parental notice, or a partial birth abortion ban.  Should we give on those?  They do mitigate the number of abortions we see and until we see a Personhood Amendment passed or see Roe v. Wade overturned we have to continue to made advances where we can.  It makes no sense to say “let’s let babies over 20-weeks of age die since we can’t save them all.”

Hurley and Carroll continued, “At The FAMiLY LEADER, we will continue to promote the sanctity of life and at the same time hold legislative leaders and their members accountable for their actions, words, and votes.  Iowans should do the same when it comes time to vote.”

Sure promote the sanctity of life for preborn… except those over 20 weeks.  I’m sorry, from my vantage point The FAMiLY Leader has done precious little to advance prolife legislation this session.  They have been a road block for other prolife groups.  They’ve promoted one bill and one bill only and have ignored (or worked against) the rest.

That isn’t promoting the sanctity of life.

As far as holding legislative members accountable, it goes both ways… it pains me to say as I consider Kim Pearson a friend, (and I respect Tom Shaw and Glen Massie as well) legislative votes have consequences… while there are a number of prolife people who support their position, the majority do not.  How will that impact 2012?  I don’t know.  I hope it doesn’t because I believe all three hold great promise.

On the flip side of the coin, I do want to commend the Democrats who voted against their caucus on this bill, there were four of them.  Thank you to State Representatives Dan Muhlbauer (D-Manilla), Brian Quirk (D-New Hampton), Kurt Swaim (D-Bloomfield) and Roger Thomas (D-Elkader) for voting for life.

Next the Senate… start calling and emailing now.

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