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May 3rd, 2011

Beyond Reproach?

By Craig Robinson

In the last election, Americans were fed up with politicians who ignored the will of the people.  As a result, a record number of incumbents were voted out of office.

Fifty-three incumbents were voted out of office in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.   Seeing the writing on the wall, other incumbents decided not to seek re-election at all.  In fifteen of those open seats, the party that occupied that seat lost.  Incumbents also took a beating at the state level.  Republicans gained over 720 state legislative seats in 2010, well surpassing the 500 they gained in the elections of 1994.

With those remarkable results, one would think that elected officials across the country, and here locally, would have a little more respect for we the people.  You would also think that their, “I know better than you do,” approach to governing would also wane.  Yet, we all know that nothing has really changed.  Instead, we just have different people telling us they know better than we do.

The situation in Iowa is a bit different. While the Tea Party is now upset with Republican leaders in both chambers, their own elected leaders are guilty of the very disrespect that they so despise.  If Tea Party legislators like Rep. Kim Pearson, Rep. Glen Massie, Rep. Tom Shaw, and now Sen. Kent Sorenson really believe that all power is inherent in we the people, then why are they openly hostile to a bill most Iowans desperately want to see passed?

As you probably know, I’m referring to House File 657.

A bill that has been passed in numerous states this spring.

A bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks gestation.

A bill that will keep a well know late-term abortionist, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, from opening up a clinic in Iowa, which he has promised to do.

Just like Nancy Pelosi and President Obama ignored the public upheaval over their government takeover of the healthcare system, these Iowa legislators are ignoring the upheaval in their own state in regard to Carhart’s threat to open a late-term abortion clinic in Council Bluffs.

On its face, it might seem like a stretch to compare these Iowa legislators to the former Speaker and current President, but when you realize that Pelosi and Obama based their support for government run healthcare on their principles rather than the wishes of their constituents, the similarities are obvious.

Pearson, Massie, and Shaw blocked, attacked, and voted against the bill when it was in the House.  While their belief that all abortions should be illegal is one that the entire pro-life movement shares, the bill they have so vehemently opposed is designed to advert a crisis.  Instead of finding a way to help those in the pro-life community and the people Council Bluffs, these representatives have worked against them.

To Sorenson’s credit, he is willing to support the bill as long as he has assurances that two of the three amendments that he plans to file are approved.  First, he wants to strip the language in the bill that states that life begins at conception.  Second, he wants to strike Iowa Code section 707.7 that deals with feticide.  Third, he plans to offer an amendment that would strike everything in the bill and replace it with personhood language.  Sorenson told that he would not offer that amendment if the House debates the personhood bill.

While Sorenson’s proposed amendments deserve consideration, holding a bill hostage in the final days of the legislative session is risky business.  If Sorenson gets his way, Senate Republicans will have enough signatures to use a procedure to discharge House File 657 from committee and place it on the debate calendar.   Even though the bill would then be eligible for debate, there is no guarantee that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal will actually allow the bill to be debated.

Likewise, if the House debates and passes the personhood bill, it sends a conflicting message to Gronstal and the Senate and could provide an avenue for Gronstal to ensure that no pro-life bill is passed.  It’s uncommon that bills such as the late-term abortion bill and personhood bills are debated so late in the session, a time that is typically reserved for budget negotiations.  If the House sends the personhood bill to the Senate, Gronstal could claim that the personhood bill is the priority for Republicans and only allow debate on that bill, leaving the Carhart bill out in the cold.   When the personhood bill fails in the Senate, which, unfortunately, seems certain, Gronstal will have earned his next contribution from the abortion lobby.

The likes of Pearson, Massie, and Shaw would celebrate if the personhood bill moves through the house, but the likelihood that the pro-life community and the Council Bluffs community could walk away with nothing that would stop Carhart also increases.  House Democrats have already tried to amend House File 657 (the Carhart bill) with personhood language because they know it will likely kill any chances of the bill passing.  The same would likely be true in the Senate.

The chances of Gronstal allowing a vote on any pro-life bill is slim, but the chances of him allowing a vote on both bills is even slimmer.  Debating the personhood bill could also be very difficult.  Some Republicans want exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.  Other Republicans, including The FAMiLY Leader, say that position is “inconsistent with the Christian sanctity of life.”  Additionally, Democrats will surely raise questions about whether or not the personhood bill would make many forms of contraception illegal.  A debate over the moment of conception is not only complicated, but could also be lengthy.

Lost in all of this are the people from western Iowa that simply want to prevent Carhart, and people like him, from setting up a clinic in their own backyard.  Instead of addressing a critical need, members of the pro-life community have instead split ranks and participated in an ugly debate that has accomplished nothing thus far.

Sorenson and Pearson have been tone-deaf to the needs of the people of Council Bluffs.  Looking to score political points and media attention, the two of them headlined a rally in Council Bluffs to put pressure on Gronstal last January.  Only 35 people showed up, which may be because, instead of talking about Carhart, they focused on the issue of gay marriage.

Politics has co-opted the life movement during this legislative session, and as a result, pro-life Iowans have nothing to show for their efforts but bumps, bruises, and hard feelings.  This legislative session has already been a disappointment when it comes to addressing a number of abortion issues, but it will be even worse if we allow the likes of Carhart to set up shop simply because a handful of legislators think that preventing someone like that from opening a clinic in Iowa is a waste of time.

The time for philosophical debates is over.  It’s time for our elected officials, including Sen. Sorenson, to put aside the politics and do all that is necessary to help the people of Council Bluffs and the unborn.It’s time to join the other states that have outlawed the late-term abortions practiced by Dr. Carhart.  We must act quickly, because time is running out.

Photo Dave Davidson

UPDATE: Sorenson tells that the discharge petition now has the necessary 26 signatures.  Today is the first date such a petition could be submitted.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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