October 1, 2014

Senate holds 16-minute debate over abortion (audio)

There was a short but fierce shouting match in the Iowa Senate this afternoon over abortion policy.

Republicans like Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan sought to forbid any state money from being used to pay for abortions for women who’re the victims of rape or incest, or whose lives are endangered by the pregnancy and who qualify for government-paid Medicaid coverage.

“Poll after poll has shown that the American people are opposed to the use of taxdollars to fund abortions,” Johnson said.

Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, called that an “extreme” position that is at odds with federal policy.

“Are you willing to take over $1.5 billion of federal dollars away from the health and safety of every women, every child and every family involved in Medicaid in this state?” Hatch asked.

Senator Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Indianola, replied and the fireworks started.

“Senator Hatch, I’m just curious. How many babies are you willing to slaughter, dismember and throw in a garbage can for a billion dollars?” Sorenson said.

Democratic senators began shouting: “Point of order!” Senate President Jack Kibbie quickly said to Sorenson: “The question’s out of order…asking one of our members a ridiculous question.”

Sorenson started speaking over Kibbie. “I think it’s pretty ridiculous,” Sorenson said.

Kibbie then said: “It’s not in order in this chamber, senator.”

Sorenson replied: “I think it’s pretty ridiculous to claim that we can’t save unborn babies for a billion dollars.”

Senate Democrats then voted down the proposed abortion restriction on a 25 to 22 vote. Republicans next tried to ensure no state tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood for family planning services for Medicaid patients. Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City was the only Democrat to speak against the proposal.

“It’s time to trust women to make their own choices about their health care providers,” Bolkcom said. “It’s time to stop the Republian war on women.”

Johnson was the only Republican senator to speak in favor of it.

“There’s no war,” Johnson said. “You know, that’s become a campaign slogan that’s been used repeatedly and it has no place here in the Iowa Senate.”

The second proposal failed, too. This verbal skirmish in the senate over abortion lasted 16 minutes.

AUDIO of the senate debate of these two GOP proposals.

It happened during senate consideration of a larger bill that outlines spending for the Iowa Department of Human Services. The Iowa House will likely have a similar debate over abortion policy when it considers the bill.