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December 15th, 2011

Issue of Life Takes Center Stage in Iowa Last Night

The hottest ticket in Des Moines last night was for the premiere of The Gift of Life, a pro-life documentary hosted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee winner of the 2008 GOP Iowa Caucus. Hoyt Sherman Auditorium was filled to the brim with more than 1,300 people who turned out 10 days before Christmas for the hour-long film.

Four of the GOP presidential candidates took the opportunity to speak to the audience of social conservatives about their stances on the sanctity of human life. Huckabee made a point to tell the audience that while all of the candidates had been invited to the event Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Rick Santorum “cleared their schedules and made this a priority event.”

For candidates and pundits who think the life issues have taken a back seat to the economy and unemployment in the upcoming election, last night’s attendees would suggest otherwise. After watching the documentary Matthew Berends, a business major at Drake University who is a pro-life voter said he was impressed with The Gift of Life. Holly Schmidt, a Drake University student majoring in writing who attended the premiere with Berends said, “The film was very moving.” The Drake students said that where a candidate stands on is important to them, they find themselves in a minority on a college campus when it comes to being pro-life

Don and Connie Phillips from Norwalk intend to spread the word about the movie to others. When asked how important a candidate’s views are on the life issues, Connie said, “We vote pro-life. We always do.”

Annie Boyd, a stay-home mother of four from Urbandale, said she always votes pro-life. Asked why, Boyd, who is pregnant with her fifth child, responded, “It’s my responsibility.”

Tina Brousseau who lives near Colfax in Jasper County came to Des Moines to watch the film, “This was very important for me to come see.”

The documentary, produced by Citizens United Productions, takes a hard-hitting look at the moral issues surrounding abortion with vignettes about people whose lives have been affected by abortion. Three of the stories the film features are those of Sandra Cano, Michael Clancy and Rebecca Kiessling

Sandra Cano, the “Mary Doe” behind the case Doe v. Bolton—a companion case to Roe v. Wade that was decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court on the same day—speaks out in the film about how a lawsuit filed by Atlanta Legal Aid used her to advance the legalization of abortion. Pregnant with her fourth child, Cano sought legal help in getting a divorce. At 22, she was poor, uneducated and vulnerable. Cano wasn’t seeking an abortion but her attorney used her as the plaintiff in a suit aimed to make abortion legal through the ninth month of pregnancy. Although Cano was pregnant, she was not seeking an abortion, nor has she ever had one. She had been co-opted and her circumstances manipulated to promote the pro-abortion agenda. Today Cano works to expose the deceit behind the landmark case.

In 1999, USA Today asked photographer Michael Clancy to photographa pioneering surgical procedure on a 21-week old fetus still inside his mother’s womb. Clancy had never photographed an operation before and what he caught on film at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee was nothing short of a miracle. Little Samuel Alexander Armas popped his arm out of the incision the surgeon had cut into his mother’s uterus and his tiny hand reached out for the doctor’s finger. Clancy caught the child’s grasp for life. The photograph has been the focus of controversy with pro-abortion forces denying that the picture represents any consciousness on the part of the unborn child, and pro-life advocates seeing the child as deliberately reaching out and taking hold.

When Rebecca Kiessling was 18 she wanted to find her birthmother. She learned she had been conceived in an attack by a serial rapist and that she was almost the victim of not one but two back ally abortions.  “I immediately felt targeted. I knew what people said, you know ‘I’m pro-life except in cases of rape,’” says Kiessling. “Whenever people make the rape exception, I understand they want to be people of compassion and they think that in order to prove that they care about women and that they care about rape victims, that they need to make the rape exception. But that’s pretty cold-hearted for someone like me.” Today as a wife, mother and family law attorney Kiessling is a national advocate for the rights of the preborn and hopes to change people’s attitudes about “except in cases of rape.”

The Gift of Life is available as a DVD and sells for $ 19.95.

You can watch a video of the candidates by clicking here.  The program begins at the 12:23 mark.


Photo by Dave Davidson –

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About the Author

Polly Twocents

Polly Twocents is the pseudonym for the political commentary of Patti Brown, a partner in the Iowa Policy Institute, a research and analysis firm specializing in public policy issues. Patti is an Iowa mother of five who has a masters degree in journalism with a minor in political science from Iowa State University and an masters in social work from the University of Iowa. Patti worked for many years as a social worker in hospital, hospice and mental health settings. In addition she has also been a staff writer and columnist for The Catholic Mirror and a writer for The Des Moines Register. She is unabashedly and consistently pro-life and pro-family. As a bleeding heart conservative, Patti believes in a limited, representative government, personal responsibility, individual opportunity, and free enterprise.

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