Iowa Right to Life logoThere have been questions about why many pro-life groups, including Iowa Right to Life, have not declared support for State Representative Tom Shaw’s “Personhood” bill, House File 138. This bill creates a definition of person to include the unborn in the criminal code, makes conforming changes to the code, and includes a severability  clause. It would criminalize both physicians and mothers involved in abortions. We applaud the passion the bill’s author and his co-sponsors’ concern for the unborn and we share it wholeheartedly. There has been some confusion and strong rhetoric from many regarding this bill and others like it at the Capitol this year. Rep. Shaw’s bill is not the only bill seeking to end all abortion in the State, so let us address a couple of the three or four personhood bills currently introduced.

Although we have concerns about the practical and legal effect of personhood legislation at the State level when an act of Congress or the United States Supreme Court is  the best and most direct way to overturn Roe v. Wade; we have been willing to sign on to personhood bills in the past and have during this legislative session as well.

When considering what bills to support or oppose that are introduced each year (and there are many!), we not only look at the intent, but also drafting errors, legal pitfalls, and how that legislation fits in with our philosophy for how to end all abortion in Iowa.

Iowa Right to Life has always been an organization that believes its calling is to “love them both.” Before Roe vs. Wade, most States’ prohibitions on abortion did not criminalize the mother like House File 138 seeks to do. They held the physician responsible for the homicide we all agree abortion is. Physicians frequently have all the power and the knowledge available to influence these young women at one of their most vulnerable times in life. Physicians are the experts young woman look to when they come in or are taken in often scared and at times even coerced. The  physician, when abortion is finally outlawed again, should be responsible for the death of the unborn if an illegal abortion is performed.

If you are a mom, a dad or a grandparent with a child or grandchild suffering under the weight of their abortion because they bought the lies being sold to them by the abortion industry: do you want that child or grandchild to be tried for murder?

Iowa Right to Life has signed on to House File 171, a personhood bill by State Representative Matt Windschitl. This bill, like Rep. Shaw’s, adds the definition of person in the criminal code to include the unborn, but does so without criminalizing young girls and without legal pitfalls such as HF 138’s severability clause that put pro-life tools in the Code at risk of being stricken. The two bills accomplish the same end but one shows compassion and solid jurisprudence. In addition to these two bills, there is at least one additional competing personhood bill in the Senate with another one supposedly on the way.

Representative Shaw and the co-sponsors of his personhood bill should be commended for their passion and their desire to join the fight for the unborn. Their personhood bill is only one of many, however, at the Capitol. We hope that, regardless of which version of personhood various organizations and individuals support or do not support, we will treat each other with dignity and respect; honoring each other in the spirit of unity and love. Iowa Right to Life is committed to this principle and we call  on each of the other pro-life groups in Iowa to join us in committing to supporting each other to whatever extent possible given our unique niches in the pro-life movement.

We can’t all do everything. We do not claim to corner the market on all that is prolife. There is much to be done. Iowa Right to Life invests much of its time organizing prayer efforts through 40 Days for Life, educating the grassroots to change the culture that will ultimately result in a pro-life State government, as well as weighing in on public policy each legislative session. We’ll continue to vigorously educate and advocate for all innocent life!

Iowa Right to Life supports our friends across the pro-life spectrum. We may disagree on which bill is worth putting our full efforts and resources into. We may disagree on the best strategy to overturn Roe vs. Wade. We respect and honor, however, anyone who shares that goal with us. Iowa Right to Life will continue to monitor the many personhood bills being introduced at the Capitol this year and in the future. We  will always consider support for any life-saving bills that pass legal muster and show love for both the unborn and his/her mother.



  1. Why Does Iowa Right to Life not love the abortionist. Where is the compassion for her? She may be a mother, too.

    “If you are a mom, a dad or a grandparent with a child or grandchild suffering under the weight of their abortion because they bought the lies being sold to them by the abortion industry: do you want that child or grandchild to be tried for murder?”

    Don’t kid yourselves. If my wife or daughter killed another member of the family, of course, I would want them prosecuted. I would expect them to be tried for murder, because it is MURDER (not only “homicide”). Why does IRTL only use the word “murder” to show why we should never accuse the “mother” of this.

  2. Elaborate weasel words from IRTL.

    Now, I realize that sounds mean, but, oh well. It’s accurate.

    We’re talking about matters of life and death here, and the only basis for American constitutional republican self-government.

    Personally, I’m sick and tired of people who try to be nicer than God, while supporting things we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God hates. and the rule of law.

  3. Iowa right to life., you are a sell out. This is proof that you have no intention of ending abortion. You just said ‘And then it is ok to kill the baby”. And YES the mother is as much a criminal as the doctor. She has hired a hit man to kill her child. If a father did that, he would be on death row. Tom Shaw’s bill guarantees the right to life for every human being. You are a disgrace, Get out of the “life” business. The babies are safer without your help.

  4. Just received this: American Right to Life President Leslie Hanks
    said today, “American Right to Life applauds Tom Shaw for his principled
    defense of the God-given unalienable right to life by introducing House
    File 138, a true personhood bill. Other approaches
    to defending the right to life are being promoted in Iowa, including at
    least one alleged “personhood bill” whose exceptions deny children in
    the womb equal protection under the law and thus convert the bill into
    an anti-personhood bill.”

  5. The letter I sent to all Iowa legislators this morning:

    HF 171 is worse than Roe vs. Wade – HF 138 goes to the black heart of Roe and obliterates it

    From a citizen of Iowa, to our legislators:

    First, let me say that HF 138 is righteous, lawful legislation. It is in perfect accord with the laws of nature and of nature’s God.

    It lines up perfectly with the stated self-evident natural law moral principles of our national charter, the Declaration of Independence.

    It fulfills all of the clauses of the stated purposes of the document you swore before God to support and defend, the U.S. Constitution, and its explicit, imperative requirement in the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments that no innocent person be deprived of life, and that all persons, in every jurisdiction, in every State, be provided with the equal protection of the laws.

    It fulfills every word of Article One, Section 1 of the Iowa Constitution which you also swore to God and the people of our great State to uphold.

    Contrarily, HF 171 is utterly immoral, completely unconstitutional, and quite obviously unlawful. While defining children in the womb as persons, it fails to provide equal protection to all of those little persons, as the supreme law of the land absolutely requires, without exception.

    In fact, it brazenly, explicitly, spells out which disfavored classes of innocent persons can be killed under the color of a lawless “law.”

    In Roe vs. Wade, abortion-supporting Justice Blackmun and his colleagues in the majortiy, while openly acknowledging the obvious fact that the Constitution “of course” absolutely, explicitly, requires equal protection for all persons, knew that they needed the fig leaf of the dehumanization of the child, the denial of the obvious, plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face fact that the child in the womb is in fact a human person.

    Conversely, the writers of regulatory legislation like HF 171 go far beyond the gross injustice of Roe by admitting to the obvious personhood of the child, and then allowing disfavored classes of those persons to be slaughtered anyway.

    Frankly, unlike Judge Blackmun, they don’t even have a poor fig leaf. They’re standing buck naked and helpless, morally, constitutionally, legally, and politically.

    Every one of you who has a conscience that remains in any part un-seared, and a mind that still maintains some connection to logic, moral reason, and basic American morality, I beg you, just start doing the right thing. Keep your oath. Let God strategize the outcome for once. Please.

    Adopt the decent, moral, statesmanlike attitude of our wise first President, George Washington:

    “If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”


    Tom Hoefling
    Lohrville, Iowa

  6. Iowa Right to Life? Make that Iowa Right to Lucre. 😛

    As for a woman being prosecuted for murder if she breaks the law to get an abortion, why shouldn’t she be prosecuted for murder?

  7. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. – Ezikiel 23:20

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