There was a gathering of anti-abortion activists at the statehouse late this morning, urging legislators to pass a bill that would ban most abortions in Iowa after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Nebraska recently enacted a similar ban and a Nebraska doctor has said he hopes to open a clinic in Council Bluffs to perform so-called “late term” abortions. Jon Jacobsen, a lawyer from Treynor, says Dr. Leroy Carthart is a “clear and present danger” to the entire state of Iowa, not just Council Bluffs.
“We are here from the Council Bluffs community to plead with our legislators to pass this life saving bill which would prevent these types of businesses from operating here in Iowa,” Jacobsen said.
According to Jacobsen, Carharthas begun performing late term abortions in Maryland and Indiana, with Iowa next on his list. “The sands are running through the time glass right now folks. The legislative session — we’re on the back nine right now,” Jacobsen said. “There’s a sense of urgency here.”
Three new members of the Iowa House blocked a vote on the bill in one House Committee because they favor an outright ban on all abortions, so the House speaker moved the bill that calls for a more limited ban to another committee. The legislation will likely come up for consideration in that other committee by the end of next week, but the delay is worrisome to folks like Norm Pawlewski, a lobbyist for both the Iowa Right-to-Life Committee and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“I don’t know what the delay is all about, but it’s time to get off the dime and get it done,” he said this morning.
Tamara Scott of the Iowa Chapter of the Concerned Women of America not only wants action on the ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, she wants the Republican-led Iowa House to consider a wide range of anti-abortion legislation.
“Enough is enough,” Scott said this morning. “Thank you for the kind lip service, but we had quite a phenomenal turn-out in an election last year and we want to see some results of that election.”
Jenifer Bowen, executive director of the Iowa Right-to-Life Committee, organized a statehouse news conference this morning to allow like-minded people to speak out.
“This is not an ethereal conversation about who is more pro-life, who is more righteous, who is more right,” Bowman said. “This is not about who is to blame. This is about responsibility.”
There’s been a fissure in the state’s “pro-life community,” as one group — The Family Leader — has been actively pressing for an outright ban on all abortions rather than what other groups refer to as an important “first step” — the ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Iowa Right-to-Life Committee chairman Robert Dopf put it this way.
“This is an appeal to the pro-life citizens of Iowa…all hands on deck,” Dopf said. “We’ve got a governor who will sign any piece of pro-life legislation coming out of the legislature. We need you now…Call your legislators. Tell them to support the pro-life pieces of legislation.”
Representative Chris Hagenow, a Republican from Windsor Heights is co-chairman of the Government Oversight Committee — the panel that will be considering the ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
“Things don’t often move at the speed we like and what ultimately matters is at the end of session what has become law and that’s what we’re focused on,” Hagenowsays. “So I guess I would just ask my friends in that community to bear with us a little bit because we’re still working hard on it.”
The Democratic leader of the Iowa Senate has indicated he will bring the bill up for debate in the 50-member senate if it clears the 100-member House, and wins the endorsement of a committee in the senate. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal is from Council Bluffs.
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