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April 1st, 2011

Late-Term Abortion Ban Passes In House – Pearson, Massie, and Shaw Silent

By Craig Robinson

The Iowa House debated House File 657 yesterday.  House File 657 is the successor to House File 5, a bill that would ban abortions in the state of Iowa after 20 weeks gestation.

For a piece of legislation that has cause caused division within the Republican caucus in the House and within the pro-life community in Iowa, the bill sailed through the chamber without any amendment yesterday afternoon where it passed 60 to 39.

Three House Republicans, Rep. Kim Pearson, Rep. Tom Shaw, and Rep. Glen Massie joined 36 Democrats in voting against the measure.  The four Democrats who voted in favor of the bill were Dan Muhlbauer, Rep. Brian Quirk, Rep. Kurt Swaim, and Rep. Roger Thomas.

The passage of the bill ends a three month long soap opera in the House where Pearson and Massie had previously blocked the bill in the Human Resources Committee before leadership transferred the bill to a different committee.  The bill now heads to the Iowa Senate where it has an uncertain future.

A Silent Freshman Troika

For months, Pearson, Massie, and Shaw have taken every opportunity to speak out about their opposition to the late term abortion ban.  They have sent numerous press releases, repeatedly defended their position on the radio, and done interviews with reporters, yet when it came time to debate the bill, the three didn’t utter a word on the floor of the House.

Some pro-life advocates hold these three freshmen legislators in high regard for their principled stand.  While I have been a vocal critic of their opposition to the bill, I do find it admirable that they want to outlaw all abortions in the state.  That is why I think it is unacceptable and disappointing that the three of them sat in the House Chamber like bumps on a log while ever liberal woman in the chamber took to the microphone to speak out against the bill.

I understand that the three were not going to support the bill, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t advocate for their position or speak on behalf of life in general.  Frankly, I find it cowardly that Rep. Pearson felt the need to confront me at a coffee shop about my position on the bill, but can’t say a single word when its debated in the house.  Meanwhile, Rep. Walt Rodgers and Rep. Dawn Pettengill were the only two Republicans besides Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, who managed the bill, to provide a pro-life viewpoint.

There are a number of people who think that Pearson, Massie, and Shaw have shown leadership for holding firm on their position. A real leader would have engaged in last night’s debate.  While it is true that that the debate was about a late term abortion ban, the debate, which the media watched and reported on extensively, was all about the abortion in general.  Had they weighed in a productive and respectful way, not only would they have gained the respect of their Republican colleagues, they also would have helped their cause of passing a personhood bill.

Wouldn’t pro-life leaders want to lend their voice to that debate?  I would have, even if I wasn’t supporting the bill.  It seems to me that Pearson, Massie, and Shaw would rather whine and complain about other Republicans than do battle with Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell, Rep. Petersen, Rep. Wolfe, Rep. Steckman, or Rep. Masher.  Is it not necessary to dispel the untruths that each of these liberals spew in front of the media?

The FAMiLY Leader Has Impeccable Timing

As soon as the late-term abortion ban passed, The FAMiLY Leader sent out a blast email titled, “Disappointment at the Capitol.”  At first glance, I thought maybe they were upset the late-term abortion ban passed despite Bob Vander Plaats supporting the bill.  It wouldn’t have been the first time the organization abruptly changed its mind.

Instead, The FAMiLY Leader is upset with House leadership for telling Rep. Massie that his proposed amendment on House File 676, a separate pro-life bill that is designed to require the state to report the number of waivers granted by judges for underaged girls to abort their children, was not germane to the bill.  Massie’s amendment would have altered the bill to say that life begins at conception.  I understand their desire to see the personhood bill move forward.  I’m also supportive of that legislation.  The only problem is that the bill failed to make it through the funnel.

In another head spinning move by The FAMiLY Leader, despite the fact that House File 153, Pearson’s personhood bill, failed to make it through the first funnel on March 4th, The FAMiLY Leader sent out the following statement that day:

“More great news!  We have been informed by Representative Kim Pearson and others that HF 153, the “life at conception bill,” will move forward next week in a new form.  Many pro-life Republicans in the Iowa House, led by Reps. Pearson, Massie, Shaw, and Speaker Kraig Paulsen, are committed to protecting life from conception.  We applaud them for their efforts, we will keep working with them to find ways to jump legislative hurdles, and we ask that you pray for their and our success in advancing this important issue.”

Was this “new form” they talked about Massie’s amendment?  Did House Leadership back out on a deal?  Or did The FAMiLY Leader misinform its members?

One thing is for sure, The FAMiLY Leader’s opinion of Paulsen has changed radically in less than a month.  In yesterday’s email Danny Carroll and Chuck Hurley wrote, “Speaker Paulsen and Majority Leader Upmeyer would like to see their caucus unified.  At this point in time, it is not. 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.”

If The FAMiLY Leader has anyone to be upset with, it’s themselves.  The group supported the late-term abortion ban in November, opposed in for the past three months, and then kind of supported it lately.  Meanwhile, their legislative allies, Pearson, Massie, and Shaw, expended all of their energy attacking the bill that would stop a butcher from coming to our state.

Again, maybe if more attention would have been paid to building relationships instead of destroying them, the late term abortion ban and the personhood bill could have made it out of the Iowa House.

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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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