After being stymied in the House Human Resources Committee by two pro-life legislators in for months, House File 5, a bill that would prohibit aborting unborn children after 20 weeks of gestation, gained approval last night in the Government Oversight Committee.
The committee, which is comprised of six Republicans and three Democrats, passed the bill by a vote of five to four. Rep. Kim Pearson, who also serves on the Government Oversight Committee in addition to the Human Resources Committee, voted against the bill.
Democrats offered a strikeafter amendment with identical language to House File 153, Pearson’s personhood bill. Democrats believed that certain Republicans intend to offer the same amendment on the floor of the house so they tried to force them to make that change in committee.
The Democrats’ goal was to force Republican into a having a public hearing on that exact language, which would mean the measure would take even longer to get to the senate, as well as showcase the disagreement within the pro-life movement on the issue. The amendment failed 4-5, with the three Democrats and Pearson voting in favor.
It was obvious to everyone in the room that the Democrats were pulling some shenanigans, since none of the three Democrats on the committee would ever vote in favor of a personhood bill. These Democrats now get to be in at enviable position where they actually voted for a life at conception bill before they voted against it.
After all the amendments were dealt with, Democrats once again tried to make an issue about why it was necessary for the bill to be moved to the Government Oversight Committee instead of Human Resources.
Rep. Chris Hagenow, who chairs the committee and managed the bill, responded by saying similar things have been done during his short tenure in the House. Rep. Dawn Pettengill, a Republican who represents Benton County, did a great job of putting everything into perspective.
Pettengill said, “Bills of this importance get moved all of the time. This isn’t about the process, it’s a about a 20 week-old child who feels pain. You can hear its heartbeat, and its mother can feel it move inside of her.”
Despite being debated in committee after the House adjourned for the day, a number of legislators who do not serve on the Government Oversight Committee attended the meeting. Among them was Rep. Matt Windschitl, who authored House File 5, and Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, who is from Council Bluffs.
Other Republicans in attendance were Rep. Erik Helland and Rep. Tom Shaw. Shaw has been a vocal opponent of the bill. On the Democrat side, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Rep.Vicki Lensing, and Rep. Cindy Winckler attended the meeting
Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen moved the bill to the House Government Oversight Committee when the bill lacked the necessary votes to clear the Human Resources Committee due to Kim Pearson’s and Glen Massie’s opposition to it. Twelve of the 21 members of the House Human Resources committee are Republicans. The bill needed eleven votes to pass out of the committee. Pearson and Massie’s unwillingness to support the bill would have precluded the bill from advancing.
The bill is now scheduled to be debated in the House next week.
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