Media reports that indicate that House File 5, a bill that would restrict late-term abortions in Iowa, will easily sail through the House of Representatives are seriously flawed. While Republicans have the necessary votes to pass the measure, they currently don’t have the eleven votes it will take for the bill to pass out of the Human Resources committee.
The bill is modeled after a law that Nebraska’s legislature passed and its governor signed last April. The Nebraska law uses fetal pain as the basis for banning abortions instead of using the standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision in Roe vs. Wade. The new law bans abortions after 20 weeks, whereas, under Roe, abortions are generally legal throughout the entire pregnancy .
After Nebraska’s law went into effect, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a well-known late-term abortionist, announced plans to open an abortion clinic in Council Bluffs, Iowa. According to Newsweek, less than ten doctors in America are willing to conduct late-term abortions, and LeRoy Carhart is one of them.
Carhart’s plans have prompted Republicans in the Iowa legislature to attempt to pass a similar law in Iowa. In December, Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, told the Omaha World Herald, “This is the premier national right-to-life model legislation precisely because it does push the envelope.”
While the law has successfully forced Carhart to look for other places to provide his late-term abortion services, the Iowa version of the bill, which is currently stuck in a subcommittee of the Human Resources committee, isn’t good enough for two Republican legislators, Rep. Kim Pearson and Glenn Massie, who sit on the committee.
There are 21 members of the House Human Resources committee. Twelve of them are Republicans, and nine are Democrats. The bill needs eleven votes to pass out of the committee. Pearson and Massie’s unwillingness to support the bill means Republicans can’t move the bill to the House floor, and it is essentially dead.
Norm Pawlewski, a lobbyist for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and Iowa Right to Life, told TheIowaRepublican.com, “If we could have gotten solid support from Pearson and Massie, we could probably have the bill out of subcommittee this week and on the floor next week. Right now, without one of their votes, the bill is dead in the Human Resources committee.”
Pearson and Massie are not alone in their objection to the bill. Another legislator, Rep. Tom Shaw, is also opposed to it. In addition to the three freshmen Republican legislators, The FAMiLY Leader, a group who’s leadership is comprised of Bob Vander Plaats, Chuck Hurley, and Danny Carroll, are also not supporting House File 5. While pro-family groups like Iowa Right to Life, the Iowa Catholic Conference, and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition support the bill, The FAMiLY Leader registered as “undecided” even though they have told people like Pawlewski that they are not supporting the bill. The Family Planning Council of Iowa and Planned Parenthood both are opposed to the bill. It should also not surprise anyone that WHO Radio host, Steve Deace, is leading the opposition to the bill.
The legislators, The FAMiLY Leader, and Deace, object to the bill because they believe all life should be protected, not just unborn children after twenty weeks of fertilization. On his radio show on Tuesday night, Deace called legislators who believe that life begins at conception, but who are supporting House File 5, “evil,” because he says the goal is to protect all unborn life, not just babies over 20 weeks.
Iowans have come to expect ramped up rhetoric from this tight-knit group. Previously, they have used that rhetoric to attract attention, motivate their supporters, and attack their opponents. Now, it is serving as rationale for an irrational unwillingness to pass a piece of legislation that will save innocent babies’ lives because it will not stop all abortions.
“We are trying to stop a butcher from opening his abortionary in Council Bluffs, Pawlewski said. “We support the personhood bill, we support that life begins at conception or fertilization or however you want to put it, but there are no bills that do that yet. There is a draft of a bill that does that, but it’s a constitutional amendment, and that take’s three years. We don’t have three years.”
Pawlewski went on to say that Pearson has requested that the Legislative Services Agency draft a bill for her that would define life beginning at conception. Pearson did not make this request until this past Tuesday. It should be noted that a “personhood bill” by itself would do nothing to restrict abortion or save any lives.
When asked what happens when House File 5 doesn’t pass, Pawlewski said, “Carhart or anybody else who wants to establish a late-term abortion clinic can set one up.” Pawlewski believes that if Carhart is allowed to operate in the state, he will create a midwest mecca for late-term abortions, like George Tiller had in Kansas.
Outlawing all elective abortions is a worthwhile and honorable goal. While I too, support that goal, it doesn’t prevent me from supporting legislation that saves lives in the meantime while we continue to change hearts and minds on the larger issue.
If every life is worth protecting, then don’t we have a responsibility to limit the number of babies that Dr. Carhart aborts in his promised Iowa clinic? If House File 5 saves just one life, isn’t it worth passing?
Of course, the ultimate goal is to end elective abortion. Does this bill do that? No. But under our current legal structure, no bill passed by the legislature purporting to do that would ever be enforced. This bill can be enforced and will save lives that would otherwise be taken by butchers like LeRoy Carhart.
If you claim to be pro-life, opposing this bill is absolutely unacceptable. If you are the one legislator who prevents this bill from moving forward, you will have innocent blood on your hands, just like LeRoy Carhart.
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