Although they sat on the sidelines last year while pro-life advocates pushed for a ban to webcam abortions, The Family Leader has decided to make that issue one of its top legislative priorities during the 2014 session.
During their annual rally and lobbying day at the Capitol, The Family Leader’s political director told attendees that webcam abortions and a bill defining marriage as between one man and one woman were the two issues they want supporters to lobby their legislators on.
The Iowa Board of Medicine banned webcam, of tele-med, abortions with an 8-2 vote in late August of last year. That decision came after a group of 14 Iowa medical professionals petitioned the board in June to examine the practice.
Following an extensive hearing, during which abortion advocates affiliated with Planned Parenthood offered weak defense of the practice and avoided answering the simplest of questions, the Board of Medicine decided to end webcam abortions in Iowa. However, a Polk County judge placed a stay on the ban after Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit.
“You talk to Chuck Hurley, our attorney here, he’ll tell you that more than likely when a judge decides to do that, they’re going to overturn the Iowa Board of Medicine’s decision, even though 10 of the people on the Board of Medicine, seven of them are doctors. Apparently this judge knows more than those seven doctors,” said Greg Baker, the political director for The Family Leader.
Iowa Right to Life has led the charge to end webcam abortions since they were quietly introduced by Planned Parenthood in 2008. The abortions are done via an online conversation between a Planned Parenthood doctor and a pregnant woman who is often hundreds of miles away. The doctor pushes a button and a drawer opens, providing an abortifacient to the patient. She takes one pill at the clinic.
“Then she’ll take the second pill at home, without doctor’s supervision, not requiring her to go back into the doctor whatsoever and it basically causes her to have a miscarriage,” Baker explained during The Family Leader rally. “The doctor doesn’t really make this clear and that’s why the Iowa Board of Medicine said not only is it bad for the baby because the baby dies, it’s a health risk for the mother.”
Iowa Right to Life has been urging legislators to ban the practice. The group acquired 30,000 petition signatures supporting the cause and by bringing the issue and its inherent dangers to light, helped have the practice banned by the Board of Medicine.
Unfortunately, Iowa Right to Life has gotten very little help from other pro-life organizations. The Family Leader was silent on the issue for most of 2013 and efforts to ban webcam abortions legislatively failed.
Then, in November, a Polk County judge placed a temporary hold on the ban. That’s when Family Leader finally spoke out on the issue. Now they are joining the fray completely. A bill banning webcam abortions, crafted by Rep. Matt Windschitl, is supported by The Family Leader and Iowa Right to Life.
“We don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republicans, just because of the process this goes through is so dangerous to women, we believe it is such a bipartisan that we encourage you to talk with these legislators and begin enacting a ban saying in the state of Iowa we will not allow abortions in the case of telemedicine,” Baker said.
The annual sojourn to the State Capitol by The Family Leader organization and its supporters came much earlier than usual this year. Usually, the organization led by Bob Vander Plaats rallies at the capitol in March, followed by intensive lobbying efforts from attendees. This year, they converged on the Capitol in late January.
The decision was part of a strategic plan by The Family Leader. They want their supporters to lobby legislators before the first funnel date, when bills must pass out of committees or they die.
“The funnel date is in early February this year. Typically for our rallies, we had it in March, is after the funnel date. Given the current makeup of the Iowa Legislature, a lot of our bills are already dead by then. So for you to have a real effect in your time lobbying pro-family policy, we decided to move it back a few months, bring you up to the Capitol, and have you promote these bills so we can actually get them out of committee,” The Family Leader’s political director Greg Baker told attendees.
The Family Leader held their annual rally next door to the Capitol at the State Historical Building on Tuesday. Among the 90 attendees were pastors from around the state, legislators Tom Shaw and Greg Heartsill, U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis and congressional candidate Brad Zaun. Following the rally, attendees were encouraged to spend the day at the Capitol lobbying their legislators to ban webcam abortions and pass a bill defining marriage.
UPDATE: The webcam abortion legislation, HF 2073, and its predecessors, was drafted by Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley).
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