Congressman Steve King is running for Congress in Iowa’s Fourth District.
Describe your position on the abortion issue: First, for me, I’ll say from the earliest years of my adulthood and from the time I picked up my first born child, David, I looked at him and thought this is a miracle in my hands and how could anyone take his life no or a minute after he was born or a minute before he was born or the hour, the day, the week, the month, the trimester before. When did his life begin? In a matter of about 10 seconds, I came back to conception. Today we say fertilization because of modern science. That has been my deep conviction that I came to at with clarity at that moment. Since that time, I’ve been active in the pro-life movement all along. It’s been 43 or 44 years ago now. And my activities as far as in the Iowa Senate, where I was always on the pro-life side — it was one of the things that motivated me to run for state senate. In fact, back then the debate was in the earlier stages, I challenged a state senator, 24-year incumbent, because of his position on parental notification. I promised I would go in and rewrite that law. It’s one of the 13 promises I made when I ran for state senate, 12 of which I kept. Since that time we’ve made significant process in pro-life legislation. Here in Congress, I’m a member of the pro-life caucus and clearly known as perhaps the strongest voice with the maximum amount of clarity on the full breadth for the principles of all human life from fertilization until natural death, born and unborn. I’ve been supporting every piece of legislation that is pro-life legislation. I have a reception and host the March for Life people who come out here from Iowa. I’ve done that every year I’ve been out here in Congress. I’ve spoken on that stage from the Mall, I can’t count how many times it’s been, but for years I’ve given that speech on the Mall. Anything that is pro-life comes through the Judiciary committee. The crowning endeavor was the crafting of the Heartbeat legislation. I made that pledge at the funeral of Phyllis Schlafly. Then I spent several months drafting the legislation to get the language as precise and most effective as we could. I moved that into the House of Representatives. We achieved 174 cosponsors on that legislation and we were poised to bring it to the floor. We had the votes to pass it without exceptions for rape or incest, because those babies are as precious to God and to our society as my own grandchildren are. So, we’ve defended the platform with utter clarity — no exceptions for rape or incest. That put me in position to draft Heartbeat legislation for the state of Iowa. That legislation was only altered to pick up the last three votes and that provided exceptions for rape or incest. It was better to move legislation to the Governor’s desk than not. I’m not quibbling with that decision, it was a political reality, but people know exactly where I stand with the platform. I always wear a heart pin with little feet on it right under my Congressional pin. That put me in position to write and promote Heartbeat legislation around the country. Today there have been at least 10 states with another 10 or 12 that have something in the works. It seems to me that we added up 25 states altogether that had either introduced or passed Heartbeat legislation. It has swept the country. It is a movement in America. We expect more Heartbeat legislation to come forward in the next session. This is something that I’ve been very active in nationwide and it doesn’t always make the press, but there’s no one who has been around me who doesn’t see or doesn’t understand that I have been, I’ll say, likely the strongest voice for legislation that will save the most lives. And I moved it further than anyone has in the history of Congress. My thank you for that came from my opponent (Randy Feenstra) who attacked me for defending those conceived in rape and incest and bragged he raised more money off that mailer than anything else he had done. That’s for him to answer. We checked that off and we go forward trying to do the right thing.
Why are you pro-life: When I said born and unborn, incorporated into that is when there’s an issue that I find or comes before me that means life or death, and sometimes we are dealing with life or death issues, I see others sometimes just give up and think ‘there’s no hope there, so I’m not going to defend life.’ As long as there is life, there is hope. Two examples: One of them is the Tanzanian Miracle children. Those kids were on death’s door in Tanzania. Dr. Steven Meyer said those kids would be dead today if not for Steve King. That’s true, but it’s also true for a number of those in that chain of a miracle. I am not taking exclusive credit. There were three 10-12 year-olds lying in a hospital bed in Tanzania. I had a chance to save their lives. I’m a link in that chain and I think that chain is a gift from God that I had the privilege of being in that chain of miracles partly because I turned up everything I could to save their lives. I knew I had a chance to save their lives. When you have a chance to save a life, you put the pedal to the medal. You hold that throttle down full bore until that heartbeat stops or you accomplish your goal. Another one is Jaci Hermstad. This is another case of life and she’s alive today and most people think she would not be if it hadn’t been for the work I did here to get the FDA out of the way so she could receive treatments in early June rather than perhaps October. Today I see videos of movement in her fingers, arms and legs. Most of us thought she wouldn’t be with us at all if not for the treatments she received. The FDA was standing in the way. I was able to crack that. I did a whole series of things, but key was to introduce legislation to exempt her. I worked across the aisle with Nancy Pelosi to put the last piece in place. I have to confess that, when it comes to life, yes, I will work across the aisle and I’ll do so any time I think I can help constituents in the Fourth District. Jaci is from Spencer. She had an identical twin sister who was diagnosed with ALS. Her twin sister died on Valentine’s Day in 2011 of ALS. They donated tissue from her passed away sister for science to see if they could come up with a treatment to address ALS. Columbia University produced a treatment infusion injected into the spinal fluid that travels throughout the nervous system in the body. On Valentine’s Day of this year, Jaci was diagnosed with the same aggressive form of ALS. And then we did a fundraiser for her on April 13 up in Spencer. We raised over $400,000. Just hundreds of people showed up — well over 1,000 people showed up. They continued to donate after the fundraiser was over, but the FDA had blocked that treatment to her and said toxicity tests were being done, which means they give this to rats and what for rats to die. They thought they’d be done with that by September or October. When I saw that, I thought ‘she’s not going to make it.’ And neither did anybody around her. So, I began turning this thing up and I did a lot of things to get it to the point where I had to introduce private legislation to address it. We would’ve passed it on the floor the first Friday in June as I recall, but on the Thursday night before, the FDA found a way to waive its regulations. They didn’t want to see that legislation passed out of the House of Representatives and start a new precedent. From a legislation prospective, yes, I brought people into this. But I almost single handily moved that thing so that Jaci could get her treatment. She went to Columbia to receiver her first treatment June 11 and has had eight treatments now. The young lady now, who is just a very likable individual and was essentially paralyzed for months now, has received eight treatments and those treatments she’s received are showing some signs of not only the suspension of the digression, but also some restoration of her ability to move her fingers, her arms and her legs. So, where there’s life, there’s hope. And there’s a chance for her to be the first survivor of ALS.
When do you believe life begins: Every baby is a miracle created in God’s image, and I do cherish every one of them. The Heartbeat legislation, the folks who call me these names, the Heartbeat bill saves more minority lives than any other bill that has ever been brought this far in Congress. It saves a higher percentage of minorities than any other. Hispanic lives saved are only second to the black lives as far as percentage of lives it saves. Asian lives are saved in greater number. Whites are last. So it is the least discriminatory piece of legislation ever brought to Congress. It saves far more minority lives than anything brought this far in Congress. I didn’t do it for that reason, I did it because every life is sacred, regardless.
What protections should be given to defend an unborn baby’s constitutional rights: The right of Personhood. The right of Personhood would encompass all the rights that all the rest of us have. In other words, I’d describe it this way — if you look into the Declaration of Independence, it covers the protection for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I make the point those are prioritized rights. Life is the paramount right. So, no one in their pursuit of liberty can take somebody else’s life because life is No. 1, liberty is No. 2. So, you can do all things in exercising your liberty, but the barrier is at the expense of someone else’s life. The third one is pursuit of happiness. The root of this phrase is in the Greek term eudaimonia. The word eudaimonia includes the development, not just pursuit of happiness. It is the development of the whole human being — your physical, intellectual, spiritual being taking the gifts God has given you — your mind and body — and developing them to the maximum so that you have learned all that you can learn. You develop your soul as spiritually as you can to take care of the physical body because that’s the temple where the soul lives. That’s the objective of the pursuit of happiness. It’s not just a fun tailgate party, it’s an entirely different pursuit of happiness than what it might mean to certain people. The pursuit of happiness can be exercised all the way until you trample on someone else’s life. Life is to be protected with all that we have. That’s what that means to the Personhood of the unborn as well as the born.
How have you lived out and expressed your pro-life position in the past: It’s all of me. It’s what drew me into the state senate. It’s one of the big reasons I’ve spent these years on the Judiciary committee and why I’m on the pro-life caucus and why I’m active there. Shortly after I was elected to Congress, the first time we began hiring staff — and we don’t have very many of those non-negotiable principles here — but one of them is nobody comes on this staff in the district in Iowa or in the office here in Washington that isn’t clearly carrying a conviction of pro-life. Every one of our staff members is pro-life and they have been without exception all the way through. We don’t have exceptions to hire people who don’t have a conviction of life. We carry that within us. I believe if our people are strongly pro-life that value judgement informs the rest of their value judgments. It means they can have a long leash or no leash and we can be more effective than we’d be if we had to keep watching someone who didn’t carry the convictions I carry. I also brought the youngest witness in the history of Congress in to testify before Congress. He was 18 weeks into gestation, Lincoln Glenn Miller. His mother came in pregnant with him and we played the in vitro ultrasound of Lincoln Glenn Miller. That was a dramatic event in the hearing in the mark up. So, that was another step that had never been taken on the life issue, having the youngest witness to testify. I guess I swore him in, but I don’t remember how he answered that. It was a great day. It just brings joy to my face thinking about that little guy.
Should the courts have the final say on abortion: I’m tempted to say if we get the right answer (laughter). I think that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were all unjustly founded. I don’t think they’re rooted in the text of the Constitution or the original understanding of the Constitution at all. I could take you through the case precedence that got us into this, but that’s a long story. I think the worst decision ever made in the history of the United States by the Supreme Court was those two cases coupled together — Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. They’re worse than any slavery case, because this is life. And so they threw this country into a situation that we didn’t understand back in 1973. The impact that it would have, no one in 1973 would’ve said 62 million babies will be aborted over the coming years. And so, the other thing it says is that some how abortion is moral because the Supreme Court didn’t find against it. I want to see the day, and that’s what I’m working for, where we overturn Roe v. Wade. I would like to see Heartbeat legislation litigated if passed into law and signed by the President. I’d like to see the Supreme Court uphold it. Then, at that point, we can begin to move in the direction of Personhood for the balance of this. But I think the court has to reverse this. So I want those decisions in the court until it’s reversed. They’ll find anything we do in the legislature that protects life to be unconstitutional until it’s reversed. Should the court make the decision, only when they’re right and only when moving back toward the Constitution and its original understanding. Nothing in the Constitution gave a right to an abortion. The idea it’s tied to privacy, that’s the mistake of the Supreme Court and it has to be corrected at the Supreme Court. If there’s a way we could do it as we The People, I’d be all for that. And that means legislatively of course.
Do you support any exceptions that allow for abortions: I just think people need to understand that from that moment of fertilization or conception, that is a unique life. I believe that God places a soul in that unique being at that moment of conception. And so we need to protect and hold that life sacred from that point forward. I think that it’s hard for people who get emotional about this to step back and look at it — this is life. We should not end the life of an innocent little baby because of, let’s say, the sin of the father, in the case of rape, for example. And so when we think about that, there’s another way. When a baby is aborted, you never know the potential of that child. You don’t know what America or the world has been deprived of. The creativity, the blessing of that child, who never has the chance to live, to laugh, to learn, to create, to challenge, to question, to move our civilization towards God and towards a better informed future. That ends at that moment. To get this in the right perspective for people, watch again the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and see what happened when George Bailey said to the angel Clarence ‘I wish I had never been born.’ Clarence said ‘that’s a good idea, I’ll take you back to what it’d be like if you hadn’t been born.’ He showed him his brother’s grave stone. His brother would’ve drowned in the pond if George had not been there. What about all the soldiers and sailors saved by George’s brother on the ship? They’d all be dead too. The town would be in shambles. The buildings are a mess. The house is essentially a ghost house. He’s taken through the difference he made in his life. We’ll never know how much good could’ve been made in America with over 60 million babies aborted. That applies to them whether they were fertilized as an act of either rape or incest. So, let’s protect the babies and let’s punish the criminals. I was attacked for defending those babies. And, in that same attack — that mailer attack — it said that candidate (Randy Feenstra) is 100 percent pro-life, but Steve King defended those babies conceived as a result of rape or incest and we can’t have that, so send (Randy Feenstra) a check. I don’t know how they get by with that with a straight face, but that’s up to them to answer.
Would you support exceptions for rape or incest: I took it to the end of the argument here in the House with 174 cosponsors that wanted a bill without exceptions for rape or incest. My own leadership seemed to take a different position. I said to them, ‘let’s fight this out in committee. If you think you have the votes, put an amendment like that one, go for it.’ I had the votes to keep it off and they knew it. That was one of the things I was standing and fighting for a year ago about now, to get that bill through committee and to the floor without exceptions for rape or incest to demonstrate to America we’ve taken another moral step and we’ve stepped above that line and protected every life. I had held that ground really strongly.