The topic of abortion is debated in the Iowa legislature every year, yet despite the fact that Republicans have controlled the Iowa House of Representatives and occupied the governor’s office since January 2011, little to no progress has been made to protect innocent life.
The lack of progress in defending the unborn isn’t for a lack of trying. For years, there has been an effort to pass some form of a personhood bill, a personhood constitutional amendment, a law that would ban the web-cam abortions, and a fetal pain bill that would have prohibited abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.
According to Americans United for Life, 35 states “made notable progress in defending life in 2013.” Unfortunately, Iowa wasn’t one of them. Americans United for Life also states that “97 new life-affirming legal requirements, including at least 69 requirements related to abortion,” were enacted across the country in 2013.
Iowa hasn’t enacted a new life-affirming law since the late 1990’s. Sure, we can now sport “Choose Life” license plates on our cars and trucks, but while other states have enacted a number of laws that protect the life of the unborn, Iowa has stood still. In fact, Iowa now ranks near bottom of t AUL’s 2014 life list. In the past year, Iowa dropped from 37th to 39th. Liberal states like Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, California, and Washington populate the bottom 10 states, and if Iowa continues to do nothing, we could very soon join them.
There is plenty of blame to go around for the lack of pro-life progress in the state. The number one culprit is Democrat Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. Even though there are a few pro-life Democrat state senators, Gronstal controls the agenda in his chamber and has repeatedly shown no interest in protecting the unborn.
Gronstal didn’t even flinch when a well-known late-term abortionist, LeRoy Carhart, threatened to relocate his late-term abortion factory to Gronstal’s hometown of Council Bluffs after Nebraska outlawed abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Things may have been different if some Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House had chosen not to block a proposed late-term abortion ban that was similar to what Nebraska had passed which drove Carhart out of the state.
The handful of Republican legislators who couldn’t support the late-term abortion ban because it didn’t outlaw all abortions in the state, are not the only ones to blame for Iowa’s inability to protect the life of the innocent. Governor Terry Branstad has done little to advance the pro-life cause since being elected in 2010.
The Iowa Board of Medicine, the majority of whose members were appointed by Branstad, did ban the practice of telemed or webcam abortions. However, an Iowa District Court stayed the ban, which allowed the state’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, to continue to provided abortifacients to women without having a doctor examine them in person.
Besides the Board of Medicine’s actions, Branstad has done little to advocate for new restrictions on abortions. In his previous four-terms as governor, Branstad assembled a strong pro-life record. Yet, Branstad refuses to put pressure on the legislature, especially Gronstal, to pass even the most common-sense restrictions on abortions in the state.
Branstad’s lack of leadership on the life issue gives Gronstal just as much political cover as the handful of House Republicans did when they fought against the late-term abortion ban. Branstad doesn’t even have a significant opponent in this fall’s general election, and yet he still refused to address webcam abortions in his condition of the state speech. Instead, Branstad talked about an anti-bullying initiative, which the legislature has already addressed.
Despite having a Republican governor, a Republican majority in the Iowa House, and 25 pro-life votes in the Iowa Senate, the chances of Iowa joining the other 35 states that have passed numerous pro-life pieces of legislation into law in the past two years seem slim to none.
While a Republican controlled Iowa Senate would likely break the legislative log-jam concerning pro-life legislation, the state of Iowa also needs leadership from it’s Governor on the issue and continued cooperation from the many different facets of the pro-life community. The pro-life community hasn’t been on the same page over the past few years, but the one thing they do agree upon is the need to end web-cam abortions.
Governor, the Iowa House has done its part. It’s now time for you to lead on this issue and help get it passed by the Iowa Senate.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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