COUNCIL BLUFFS – Representative Matt Windschitl has sponsored several pro-life bills in the Iowa House. That includes repeated attempts at passing personhood legislation, which defines life as beginning at conception and provides the child in the womb with the same protections every other Iowan is afforded. Despite those credentials, the Republican legislator from Missouri Valley has repeatedly come under attack from Iowa Pro-Life Action, a “purist” pro-life group.
Cindy Anders is the executive director of IPLA. Anders and her husband Steve are also members of the Pottawattamie County GOP central committee. In fact, Steve Anders is the committee’s organizational chair. The purpose of Republican Party central committees is to help Republicans get elected. The Anders repeatedly take actions contrary to that purpose.
Last month, Steve and Cindy Anders distributed literature at the central committee meeting accusing Windschitl, and fellow Republican House members Mary Ann Hanusa and Mark Brandenburg of supporting “pro-death” legislation. Steve Anders also exclaimed to the entire committee that Rep. Tom Shaw’s personhood bill was the only pro-life legislation in the House, Hanusa recalled.
Steve Anders made these claims despite the fact that Rep. Windschitl also sponsored a personhood bill this year, and legislation that would ban web-cam abortions in Iowa. Hanusa co-sponsored both of those bills.
The Anders also recently blanketed Windschitl’s district with literature that was critical of his stances on the life issue. Windschitl believes the couple holds a personal vendetta against him. Their date back a few years. Thursday night, Rep. Hanusa and Rep. Windschitl fired back at their detractors.
“I don’t appreciate being identified as a pro-death legislator, because I’m not and I have a record to prove that,” Rep. Hanusa told the committee. “My constituents, who are aware of this, I’ve have a number of phone calls, they also do not appreciate any of the House Republicans who are sponsors of this bill being identified as pro-death legislators.”
Hanusa invited her Iowa House colleague to speak at the Pottawattamie County GOP’s monthly meeting. Windschitl’s district is mainly in the neighboring Harrison County. The central committee allowed the state representative the chance to “clear the air” about his pro-life beliefs and bills, while also responding to the attacks from the Anders. He spent 21 minutes doing so.
“I’m not down here to start a fight,” Windschitl said. “I’m not down here to start a fire. I’m not down here to character assassinate anybody. I’m down here tonight because I want to be able to give you folks the truth.”
Piece by piece, Representative Windschitl rebutted every single attack that had been leveled at him by Iowa Pro-Life Action. He repeatedly cited the Republican Party of Iowa’s platform and the pro-life planks in it. “Purists” often demand that state legislators followed the party platform. Windschitl showed the bills he has offered in this legislative session, and previous ones, do exactly that.
“I thought it was a very good idea for Matt to come down and tell us the honest side of what actually took place instead of all of the garbage that is being circulated,” said Mary Jones, the Pottawattamie GOP secretary. “Our constitution and bylaws and the state party’s constitution and bylaws clearly state that you are, as a central committee member, are supposed to support our candidate, our elected officials and that’s not happening with that particular couple.”
“We’ve got to change hearts and minds,” Windschitl said. “Those mothers out there that undergo abortions, they are scarred for life. I’ve heard testimonies from some of those mothers. Their punishment is that they had the abortion. Everybody else, if you restrict the practice, do away with it, it’s not going to be available anymore.”
Matt Windschitl also referred to his web-cam abortion ban (HF 173). He says Planned Parenthood performs 3,000-3,500 of web-cam abortions per year in Iowa. They are conducted via video. A pregnant woman at an abortion clinic in Council Bluffs can talk to a doctor in Des Moines, receive two abortifacient pills and then go home while the baby dies inside of her.
“It’s dangerous. It’s unsafe. In my opinion, it’s unethical. This bill is designed to eliminate that practice,” Windschitl said.
Last summer, several pro-life groups joined together to make banning web-cam abortions their top priority for the 2013 legislative session. Banning web-cam abortions is also plank 1.13 in the Republican Party of Iowa’s platform, as is banning abortifacients (plank 1.7).
“I’m a big supporter of Matt,” said Pottawattamie GOP member Al Ringgenberg, who ran for the Iowa Senate in 2012. “I think he’s been very faithful and hard-working for life, as have our other local House members. I very much respect what they’ve tried to do and I think that they need our support and our assistance, and not our criticism and derision.”
Windschitl admits that his bills are not perfect documents. Nor is Rep. Shaw’s, he says. Windschitl says he is willing to discuss ways to improve the language of the bill. However, instead of offering solutions, Iowa Pro-Life Action attacks.
“They are the only so-called pro-life organization to be registered against these pieces of legislation,” Rep. Windschitl said. “These pieces of legislation have the support of every other pro-life, pro-family group in the state of Iowa. These are groups that have been down in Des Moines working on your behalf to advance common family values for decades.”
Matt Windschitl has been serving in the Iowa House since 2007. When he was first elected, at the age of 22, Windschitl was the youngest legislator in the Iowa General Assembly. He is now an assistant majority leader. Rep. Windschitl, a former marine and Iraq War veteran, says he will continue to work to save every baby that he can possibly can.
“Is the ultimate goal to stop all abortions? Absolutely, it is. But we have to recognize that we can only go so far with a divided legislature,” Windschitl said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t push forward as much as we can on advancing personhood legislation. But we also have to be pushing on every other front that we can to save the unborn.”
Matt Windschitl received a standing ovation at the completion of his speech. It is obvious the vast majority of the Pottawattamie County GOP central committee members are supportive of his efforts in the legislature and appreciated what he said Thursday evening. The same cannot be said for the Anders.
“We had Congressman Braley in our district yesterday. He’s one of the most pro-choice Democrats in the Congress. This group was nowhere to be seen. He would’ve been a very good target to go after, but they decided to target one of our own. That’s unacceptable,” said central committee member Scott Corrie.
Steve and Cindy Anders knew Rep. Windschitl had been invited to the central committee meeting. They were also aware that several members of the committee were unhappy with their actions and might want them removed from the county party. The Anders did not attend the meeting. A medical issue with Cindy Anders was the reason given for their absence.
No action was taken regarding the Anders’ status at central committee members during Thursday’s meeting. However, their attacks against Matt Windschitl and other elected Republican officials are likely to be a topic the next time the central committee gathers.
“I’m fully supportive of Representative Windschitl. He’s a pro-life politician through and through,” said Pottawattamie GOP Chairman Jeff Jorgenson. “We’re going to have a debate, probably next month. Maybe a heated debate.”
“I think, proactively, they should maybe step down,” added Co-Chair Naomi Leinen.
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