Bret Richards is running for Congress in Iowa’s Fourth District.
Describe your position on the abortion issue: I believe that life begins at conception, and that’s where I’m at on it. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. It begins at conception.
Why are you pro-life: I was raised in a traditional Iowa family that always believed in the sanctity of life, but I’ll tell you when it crystallized in my mind, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, and I actually remember this, it’s one of those flashbulb memories you have in your life that you always remember. I was a brand new dad and she was a brand new mom. She yelled to come here and I said ‘Oh my gosh, what’s wrong.’ That’s what’s on your mind when you’re expecting. I was always worried about the baby and my wife. So, I ran in there and I asked what’s wrong. She said ‘Look at this.’ I said, ‘Oh my God, what?’ She pulled up her shirt so I could see her belly and (our son) was pushing out and you could see a perfect footprint. I mean, it was five toes, the ball of the heel — it’s just one of those moments that is really just kind of ‘Wow, that is amazing.’ So, having been in my mind always pro-life, and seeing that, it just truly crystallized my thinking on it. And it’s not that anything ever changed, it’s just ‘Wow, that is a baby in there and I don’t know how anyone that has had a child could ever think anything different.’ We had twins also. They actually tried to come early. Twins often have complications. Jill and I debate about what week it was, I think 26 and she says 27 or close to 28, but it was too early and they started coming. Of course, we rushed to the hospital and they gave her all sorts of drugs and treatments to slow that down. She was in the hospital on bed rest and then we were back and forth to Omaha to make sure she could keep those babies in there. And gosh, there’s several times I was in and out of that chapel and just willing to trade anything for God to make sure my babies stayed healthy and my wife too. That’s what is important to me and probably most important to most Iowans. What they care about is their family. It really crystallizes it when your child has issues.
When do you believe life begins: I’m not a politician, so I don’t have to have a long, long paragraph, but it goes being at conception and that is now rooted in who I am, my faith and values, but also science. I kind of chuckle when I see the Left says Republicans are science deniers. Biologists overwhelmingly say life begins at conception. If you look at it and think about it, what is the definition of life? It is when cells start their own unique genetic material and start dividing and growing. I don’t know how that debate gets muddled. If we believe in science, that should be an important piece to the discussion, not just our faith and our values. So, it begins at conception for me for several reasons.
What protections should be given to defend an unborn baby’s constitutional rights: Well, you know, we’ve got to overturn Roe v. Wade first of all. And I absolutely think that Personhood is something that we have to discuss and as Republicans push. How do we change that narrative is the big strategic question. It’s one that I’m willing to work with people, but Personhood to me is the right direction to go. The Heartbeat bill, that was a great start. It was a great start to the discussion and I think it’s part of what we do. I think Congressman King has been very out front on that. We’ve got to actually start implementing these things and getting them done. The Heartbeat bill is a good start for the discussion, but we have to keep moving that needle like the other politicians do when they want to change something. We have to have this discussion on our terms and our terms certainly should be around Personhood and we shouldn’t be shy about that.
How have you lived out and expressed your pro-life position in the past: I’m board chair of a health care center and when I was first asked to be on the board, there’s a lot of things I did an investigation on, and one of the first questions I asked in a series of questions was do you perform abortions at the health care center. They don’t. If they had, I don’t think I would be on that board. Now, that could be spun, could I make changes inside of it if it did, I don’t know. I think I absolutely could have. But, I wasn’t going to do something that went against my beliefs and my faith. Having lived that out on that front, I took a stand before I ever accepted the position.
Should the courts have the final say on abortion: No. It’s probably one of the other topics you’ll eventually interview us on, but we have so many problems with the courts. They shouldn’t have the final say on many, many things. Clearly the people can make these decisions and clearly Iowans would. As you well know, that court that issued that opinion and wrote into the Constitution with special ink apparently that there’s a right to an abortion — I have some choice language for that, but what I’ll say is the court should never, never insert stuff like that. That is not what the Constitution says, it’s not what the people want. It’s the legislature’s prerogative to take that back. We actually have to pass a Constitutional amendment at the state level to fix what the court did, which is really ridiculous that someone can legislate from the bench and find a new right in the Constitution like that. There are a lot of great organizations working on that. Iowans For Life is one at the forefront trying to do that. On the federal level, if we would re-elect President Trump and get another Supreme Court justice, we can get Roe v. Wade overturned and get this back to the states. That goes back to my problem on the state level. We have to pass the Constitutional amendment. Right now it is in the Iowa Constitution thanks to this judge. We have to get the federal government out of this too.
Do you support any exceptions that allow for abortions: I don’t know how you distinguish between any life. No.
Would you support exceptions for rape or incest: Again, a life is a life regardless of the circumstances of how it is created. I guess it’s a hypothetical, but no, I don’t know how I can square that. I truly believe that it’s a life. It’s a great question, but I think we’ve got to keep that Personhood push. We’ve got to do that. I’m not going to compromise my principles. A life is a life. We need to get people the opportunity to give up their babies for adoption. Maybe we give someone a hope that they can live their life and still bring that life into the world and have it go to a great home. But instead, you know what our federal government does, they have regulations that make it expensive for everyone. We have laws that actually make it difficult for Catholic churches to help facilitate adoptions. How much money does a family who wants to adopt have to spend? It’s $25,000-$35,000. I have an extended family member who adopted someone. They had to raise money. There are so many babies that could go to a good home like theirs in the U.S. too, but we make it so difficult. It’s so ridiculous. I don’t know what the intent ever was to make so many regulations, to make it so burdensome. Beyond adoption, let’s look at also how we protect our medical providers. There’s been recent action on that, but it’s still in jeopardy that if a doctor or a nurse or anyone has a conscientious objection that they could be forced into taking part in this. That’s wrong. When socialist Democrats are running around here and talking about Medicare for all, well that would mean public funding would be used for abortion. If they think that abortion should be out there, and the only option is the public option, guess who is going to pay for it? You and I are going to pay for abortions, which is just terrible. We have to preserve the Hyde Amendment. Those type of issues get overlooked.