Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader organization he presides over rallied 125 conservatives from across the state at the capitol Tuesday morning. They called on legislators to strip all funding for abortions and abortion providers from the state budget.
Last week, state Senator Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) sponsored a bill that would have done that. The Iowa Legislature pays for abortions for low-income women in the case of rape, incest, life of the mother or fetal deformity. Seven fetal deformity abortions were paid for by Iowa taxpayers during the last half of 2012.
The legislation was defeated on party lines, with one crossover from the Democrats, Joe Seng (D-Davenport). The conservative activists at Tuesday’s rally hope the legislature will make another attempt.
“We are about the gold standard of the sanctity of human life. That means we want to honor every gift of life, from conception to natural death with no exceptions,” Vander Plaats said as the crowd applauded.
As a handful of state legislators looked on, speaker after speaker spoke encouraged activists to lobby on behalf of the unborn.
“Contact your legislator or a legislator and let them know that while they may not be able to overturn Roe v. Wade and they may not be able to protect human life from the moment of conception today or this year, they can at least keep your tax money from going to organizations who do provide abortions,” said The Family Leader lobbyist Danny Carroll.
The Family Leader Vice-President Chuck Hurley told attendees that for conservatives to bring about change, they must become more involved.
“The Bible says the diligent shall rule and the sad fact is that for the last few decades the pro-abortionists and the homosexuals and the socialists have been more diligent than we have been on public engagement,” said The Family Leader Vice-President Chuck Hurley.
Also taking the podium was 14-year old Josiah Oleson. Despite his youth, Oleson has lobbied legislators on education and other issues. He encouraged young activists like himself to get involved in the pro-life movement or in campaigns.
“We are the future,” Oleson said. “If we do not act now, there is no future.”
The keynote speaker was Dan Becker, the national field director for Personhood USA. Becker spoke for 10 minutes, focusing on other groups throughout history that have been denied personhood, including African-Americans during slavery, Native Americans and the Jews during the Holocaust. Becker’s organization hopes the unborn will achieve personhood status just as others have who were unjustly denied it.
Dan Becker also mentioned that state Senator Dennis Guth (R-Klemme) plans to introduce another personhood bill to the legislature. This one calls for a constitutional amendment defining personhood. Other personhood efforts from conservative legislators have failed to gain traction this year and in previous years.
Tamara Scott, the state director for Concerned Women for America, also spoke to the crowd, focusing largely on same-sex marriage and asking people to remain vigilant in their own homes. However, most of the focus for the event was protecting the unborn.
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