Life at conception cleared its first hurdle in the Iowa Senate on Thursday as Republican Senators Annette Sweeney and Jake Chapman voted the measure out of subcommittee.
“It’s simply a no-brainer an unborn child is a person,” said Danny Carroll of The Family Leader and Personhood Iowa. “The question becomes, how is that applied in law.”
Carroll said he wanted to outline what the opposition would likely say, guessing they’d go through code and through case law and cite anecdotal stories about in-vitro fertilization and medical developments.
“The reason for that is because we have spent the last 47 years ignoring the personhood of an unborn baby,” Carroll said. “Now we have this body of knowledge and culture that has been built around everything but calling that a person.”
Passing the law would likely cause court disputes for the next 10-12 years, Carroll said, but eventually it is going to happen and personhood will be recognize.
“It’s an undeniable truth,” Carroll said. “It was self-evident to previous generations that didn’t have the technology we do.”
Jamie Burch of Planned Parenthood discredited Carroll’s testimony because he can’t have children.
“He doesn’t have the necessary organs,” she said. “The truth is that there’s no scientific or medical consensus on when life begins. The medical community can’t agree. The religious community can’t agree. To some people, it’s true and to others it isn’t. Politicians aren’t the experts on this.”
Burch worried the bill could trigger government investigations into women and medical providers for miscarriages. She said any actions that have a negative effect on pregnancy, even in the first few weeks, could be prosecuted under the law.
Ultimately, though, Burch cited an unlikely ally against the bill.
“This bill goes to far and you know it, we all know it,” she said. “We know this bill is legally infeasible based on (Governor Kim) Reynolds’ previous comments on the six-week abortion ban.”
Burch also said the bill would impact thousands of laws unrelated to abortion such as property rights, inheritance rights, criminal laws, who can file lawsuits, etc.
Greg Baker of The Family Leader focused on the religious aspect of the issue and the legislature.
“Not all Iowans do, but a large number do believe in the Bible and the Bible calls government His,” Baker said. “An institution of God. So if God’s real, it’s pretty big consequences. It’s His institution of justice. Government is here to protect us from what God says is wrong and lead us toward what God says is right. God’s law is not about right and wrong, it’s about life and death.”
As pastors are shepards to the church, legislators are shepards of government, Baker said.
“The people of Iowa depend on you to make decisions that aren’t always maybe what they want, but are what’s ultimately best for them,” Baker said. “This bill moves in the right direction. It falls under your jurisdiction of who you protect.”
While many morality movements throughout history have taken multiple steps to reach the ultimate goal, Baker said truth is beginning to shine that life does begin prior to birth.
Jane Robinette of the public said the bill is broad and extreme. She called it dangerous.
“It effectively bans all abortions,” Robinette said.
Owen Dawson, 18 years old and a senior in high school, also testified.
“Earlier we heard that a man who is not able to bear children for obvious reasons should have little to no say in the issue of abortion,” Dawson said. “I resent that logic for several reasons. The of which is I think we all understand here it takes both a woman and a man to make a baby. On top of that, abortion doesn’t just abort young girls, it also aborts young boys. It’s about humanity, not certain subsets of that group.”
Dawson talked about, the United States Constitution, noting the founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For those who disagree on when life begins, he asked whether it would be wise to error on the side of life. If the unborn baby is part of the mother’s body, he said we need to take another look at our biological definitions because that would mean one body would have two hearts, two minds, two consciences, etc.
Domestic violence groups also registered against the bill.
Democrat Sen. Janet Petersen said she would oppose the bill because it is “extreme and dangerous.” She’s also concerned about the lack of OB/GYN services available at many rural hospitals across the state.
Republican Sen. Annette Sweeney supported the bill.
Fellow Republican Sen. Jake Chapman, the chair of the subcommittee, signed it through as well.
“It’s interesting to me that the issue continues to be one as though it’s debatable as to when life begins,” Chapman said. “It’s not debatable when life begins, it is a scientific fact that life begins when two germ cells unite to become one cell. It’s a miracle. Life comes from life. A new DNA complex is formed.”
Chapman said there is no other possible point of progressions for people to say is the beginning of life than conception.
“We’ve heard that this bill is extreme, what I believe to be extreme is what’s happening in New York, Virginia and Vermont,” Chapman said. “Truly up to the very moment of birth, allowing a woman to kill a child in the name of choice — that is extreme. Additionally, we heard about domestic abuse and I think all of the people here in this room today are united in being against domestic abuse. We all oppose domestic abuse. We oppose it because one individual is harming another individual. They are forcing their will upon someone else. That’s exactly what abortion is — forcing one’s will, one’s choice, upon that unborn child, the most defenseless individual in this life. And it’s wrong.”
Finally, Chapman addressed the legal concerns.
“Some will question the constitutionality,” he said. “Well let me be very clear to everyone in this room, we are not going to stop. We will continue to fight for life. I will continue to fight at every opportunity given to me.”