Top Stories

Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

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‘Personhood’ bill passes Iowa House subcommittee

Bill would effectively ban all abortion services in state, and potentially criminalizes birth control use
By Lynda Waddington | 02.14.11 | 1:28 pm

A bill requiring Iowa to protect all life “from the moment of conception,” and removing all judicial oversight and interpretation, was passed Monday by Republicans on an Iowa House subcommittee.

The proposal, which stands little chance of garnering the support of Senate Democrats, is contained in House File 153 and extends all rights and protections currently provided to people functioning outside of a woman’s womb to a fertilized egg in a woman’s Fallopian tubes.  It has 29 sponsors — all of them Republican members of the House — and will likely be elevated to to a House floor vote by Republican members of the Committee on Human Resources.

For many social conservatives, the bill has become little more than a test of purity on life issues. A different bill, House File 5, seeks to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the state “except in the case of a medical emergency.” While that bill was specifically written in an effort to prevent Dr. LeRoy Carhart from opening a medical facility in the state, many social conservatives shunned it because it did not specifically prohibit all abortions, regardless of circumstance.

Although state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) attempted to force a discussion on the ramifications of passing  a law that would provide personhood protections to fertilized human eggs, subcommittee chairman David Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant) and member Kim Pearson (R-Pleasant Hill) brushed off such questions as attempts to muddy the purpose of the bill.

“I’m deeply concerned about the impact of HF 153 on the health and safety of Iowa families,” Wessel-Kroeschell told The Iowa Independent. “In no situation should a family be forced to choose between saving a mother’s life or having her charged with murder.

“While I understand everyone has strong feelings about pregnancy, the bill is full of unintended consequences. It would ban contraception and limit options for families who struggle to get pregnant.”

Other states that have considered “egg-as-person” bills  have discovered that such legislation often places medical professionals in situations where one life must be weighed against another. For instance, in 1987 a 27-year-old cancer patient died when doctors at George Washington University Medical Center put the young woman through a Caesarean procedure for the sole purpose of avoiding potential medical liability associated with death of the fetus. The child, severely premature, lived for only two hours, and the young woman died as well. The woman’s parents sued the hospital and entered into an undisclosed out-of-court settlement, but not before the courts had weighed in on the issue.

“The right of bodily integrity,” said Judge A. Perry, “is not extinguished simply because someone is ill, or even at death’s door.” The law, according to the court, upholds a pregnant woman’s right to determine her own health care.

In essence, women who become pregnant would lose their right to medical privacy and would be stripped of decision-making authority as to their own health care and personal wishes if the Iowa bill, or any number of the “personhood” bills, become law.

For instance, Jessica Tebow, a California freelance writer, and her husband had their apartment surrounded by police in 2009 after they decided to cremate the remains of their first pregnancy, which ended in an early miscarriage.

“I can’t help but feel that we would have been better off ignoring our grief, burying our loss, hiding it from the world and suffering silently — simply flushing everything down the toilet to avoid the shame cast on us for trying to find a way to mourn and grieve in the open,” Tebow said following the incident.

Although the California incident was largely a result of miscommunication, laws like the one proposed in House File 153 could elevate any miscarriage to a criminal investigation conducted by law enforcement. There are also concerns, voiced by Wessel-Kroeschell during the subcommittee hearing, that by providing “person” rights to a fertilized egg, embryo and/or fetus, that the state has set pregnancy standards by which women must operate. For instance, could a pregnant woman be charged with endangerment for exposing her embryo to alcohol or cigarette smoke? Under such laws, would the state have an interest or mandate to prosecute women who suffer miscarriages or stillbirth?

While supporters of such laws hope to paint such possible ramifications as far-fetched or absurd, the fact remains that at least 100 women throughout the nation have been arrested and charged under such “personhood” claims. In Feb. 2009, for instance, a South Carolina woman was charged with homicide by child abuse following an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Although she survived the plunge from a fifth-floor window, the child she carried was stillborn as a result of the incident.

“I don’t want to make light of this person’s tragic situation, but I truly wonder if the state would take the same position … if she had elected to claim the viable fetus on her income tax return for the previous year,” said Raunch Wise, an attorney who has represented four women who faced such a charge.

In Iowa, women who suffer miscarriages or stillbirth are not provided death certificates. From a purely legal standpoint, the current position of the state is that a person does not exist until and if a living child emerges from the mother. Stillborn children, even those who have surpassed their estimated due-date, are not eligible for listing on any state or federal tax return and, basically, are not considered to have existed as individual persons.

“There are consequences to the laws we create,” argued Wessel-Kroeschell during the subcommittee meeting.

Such ramifications in the case of this proposed law could have far-reaching consequences. For instance, would the language contained in the bill have the end result of outlawing forms of birth control that create an unwelcome environment in a woman’s uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg? If so, then birth control pills, morning after pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs), among others, could be deemed illegal.

While the proposed law could have immediate impacts to doctors who perform and couples who undergo in vitro fertilization, there is no mention of excluding the medical practice from the “personhood” bill. Effectively, every fertilized egg created in a lab would have all the rights and protections afford to the general population, making their disposal, adoption and optional use even more complicated and possibly unlawful.

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Comments

  • Anonymous

    Hey Repubs, where is the laser focus on jobs and the economy? The only thing I’ve heard out of this legislative session are bills making sure that the citizenry acts in a manner acceptable to Republicans. Shame Shame.

  • http://www.eddiecaplan.com/ egc52556

    It seems that every post I submit here contains the words, “America is not a theocracy.” Here is another one.

    The argument against abortion is solely dependent on a theological belief: the status of the fetus’ soul at the time of the abortion.

    Now we come to public policy and our laws: should the American/Iowan government have the right to decide theological questions and impose theological doctrine on its citizens?

    If you read from the beginning of my post, you know where I stand: America is not a theocracy. That doesn’t mean I am not religious; I am (not that it is any of your business). It means that I fervently believe that American/Iowan law grants freedom to its citizens REGARDLESS of religious belief.

    • Anonymous

      Abortion is not a theological debate – it’s a debate about the sanctity of life and one’s right to it – and that includes the right of the unborn life. People get so caught up in making abortion a religious issue that they miss the point entirely and that is that there is a life being taken – whether it is in possession of a soul or not – it is a life. A baby’s heart begins to beat a 43 days – any biology textbook will tell you that one of the main signs of life is a heartbeat. When we look to declare death, what does a doctor look for? They look for the presence or absence of a heartbeat. So if the heart of a baby is beating and then it’s not because of an abortionists’ tool or a pill, that means a death has occurred. That is an argument for the sanctity of life – not for one’s religious beliefs.

      • http://www.eddiecaplan.com/ egc52556

        MichelleSchadler — “sanctity” is a religious term. See http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sanctity — (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) the condition of being sanctified; holiness

        Thus, “sanctity of life” is a religious phrase. You appear to be rationalizing your religious beliefs by wrapping them in the “heartbeat” argument.

        Regarding that, does this mean that you are OK with abortion before the heart beats? This law that the GOP is trying to pass would criminalize those pre-heartbeat abortions. So are you for or against this bill?

        There’s a reason people get “caught up” in making abortion a religious issue: it IS a religious issue for most people. Including me.

        • Anonymous

          Perhaps using the word ‘sanctity’ was a poor choice. The abortion debate seems to come down to one’s belief in when life begins or when it is valuable enough to protect. If a woman is murdered while she is pregnant and the baby dies as well, the person can be tried for a double murder if the baby is deemed viable. But that woman could have conceivably walked into a late term abortionist the day before and had an abortion and it would have been legal. So we value life if it’s taken in an unjustified way but not if it’s done under the disguise of choice.

          I believe that once egg and sperm have come together life has begun. Cells are dividing and organ systems are being organized. Things are happening spontaneously and that is what we define as life.

          There is no such thing as abortion before a heartbeat unless you are referring to the destruction of embryos in a lab before implantation when they are only days old. I believe that to destroy those is also wrong because as I’ve said, there is life there.

          The bill clearly states that “…each life, from that moment (conception), is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons…” And this is why I support the bill because it would be the first time that an unborn life was given the same rights and value as a living person. We get so caught up in making sure the rights of the mother are protected but nobody seems to care about the rights of that baby to be born and live. Why is her life more valuable or important or more worth protecting than the life of the baby. Life is life either in the womb or out.

          • http://www.eddiecaplan.com/ egc52556

            Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I understand now that you don’t consider your belief religious: “once egg and sperm have come together life has begun.” But this is a belief — not fact — and a belief that is not held by all.

            So the question is how to construct our laws to allow us both to live according to our beliefs. This bill does not do that. This bill permits your belief and criminalizes any act that is according to another. That is not the American way. That most of this bill’s supporters refer to the Bible as their authority should be alarming to anyone who cares about America’s protection of — and protection from — religious dogma.

            This bill also conflicts with other existing laws, as the article covered. I won’t repeat those flaws here.

            There are many reasons to oppose this bill: disagreeing with the beliefs it espouses, restricting religious freedom, structural. Please think about it.

      • http://www.essentialestrogen.com LyndaWaddington

        I completely disagree with your premise, michelleschadler. While pulse/heartbeat is one item that is checked by medical professionals in the emergency room, its hardly the only thing. In fact, medical teams often sustain blood circulation when they know a patient is without life for the purpose of organ harvests for others in need of transplants. Human life is much more complex than the function of a single organ, even one as important as the heart.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XZ7IWGGXUYX24FL4HLZ4YNAS6Y JenniferM

    None of those stories occurred with a personhood bill on the books, so they are not relevant. It appears that the stories are taken out of context, anyway. Just more scare tactics from a pro-abortion writer.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XZ7IWGGXUYX24FL4HLZ4YNAS6Y JenniferM

      Also, if you notice the story about Jessica Tebow, the author is using that story to make it seem like women are at risk for being investigated for miscarriages – HOWEVER, Jessica Tebow’s situation had NOTHING to do with being investigated for a miscarriage (just read the article attached!), and further, abortion is illegal in many countries (including Ireland) and there are NO cases of women being investigated for miscarriages anywhere else.

      • http://www.essentialestrogen.com LyndaWaddington

        Irish law, in particular, is very specific as it relates to the country’s ban on abortion. As a criminal offense, prosecutors must prove intent was an abortion and that the abortion was not a side-effect. (The fact that the side-effect was a known risk of the activity is not enough under Irish law for prosecution.) Irish law is also very clear that abortions will be performed if a woman’s life is at risk.

        So the Republic of Ireland, like other countries that outlaw abortion services, have dealt with the “fuzzy” issues yet to be addressed in the U.S. — and the proposed language of “personhood” bills and amendments do not seek to clarify such questions.

        The specific cases used in the article above are some the closest possible to the issue of “personhood” because in each case such a status was necessary in order to make the legal leap, so to speak.

        Actual application of “personhood” laws in the U.S. remains a mystery because, to date and despite several years of debate, no state has adopted them. I believe the last state to hold a ballot measure on “personhood” legislation was Colorado during 2010, where the measure failed (more than 70 percent of Colorado voters said no for the second time to inserting such language into state documents.)

  • Anonymous

    What are they going to do about all of the naturally aborted babies? Charge the mothers with murder? Or maybe charge their God, who is (using their definition) the biggest abortionist of all?

  • Citizen Kane

    Iowa, is this what you voted for? I don’t recall a single ad or shred of information during the campaigns that suggested this as a platform issue. This is exactly why politicians are so disliked, make the promises to improve the economy, promote jobs, shrink government intrusion into our lives, and do just the opposite? More intrusion, more growth in government to oversee this stupidity. When these guys get pregnant, then I will accept that they can tell those who do how to manage their bodies. This bunch is worse then the do nothings we had before. What a waste of taxes paying these clowns, not to mention for their staffs, offices, transportation, mailings, computers, communications, publicity and on and on.

  • Citizen Kane

    Iowa, is this what you voted for? I don’t recall a single ad or shred of information during the campaigns that suggested this as a platform issue. This is exactly why politicians are so disliked, make the promises to improve the economy, promote jobs, shrink government intrusion into our lives, and do just the opposite? More intrusion, more growth in government to oversee this stupidity. When these guys get pregnant, then I will accept that they can tell those who do how to manage their bodies. This bunch is worse then the do nothings we had before. What a waste of taxes paying these clowns, not to mention for their staffs, offices, transportation, mailings, computers, communications, publicity and on and on.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like a good project that fully support it…
    Go To College

  • http://qcblue.blogspot.com/ UIGrad2010

    The republicans love spewing big government. Here’s a prime example. Maybe these idiots should spend their time helping and protecting those of us already alive in need of aid in education and health care and not worry so much about zygotes and microscopic matter. There are preschoolers in danger of not being in said preschool because of the gop.

  • http://qcblue.blogspot.com/ UIGrad2010

    And anyways, people will always get abortions, they always have. It was illegal in the US from the 1880s through the 1970′s in most parts. Re-legalization was supported by the AMA even though they were the same group that pushed the criminalization in the 19th century. It is dangerous for women to get abortions in seedy clinic in an unregulated network. Get over it, focus on helping those who are alive and need it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I6RF3FJGQQ4YMGGI2OP6SFVD5E Mark

    That this proposed legislation attempts to remove all judicial oversight and interpretation is interesting. Why stop there? Go ahead! Include a similar clause that removes all gubernatorial veto rights.

    This three branches of government thingey is so confusing, don’t you think?

  • Anonymous

    I’ll turn Pro-Life when I know Republicans are ready to help raise a child that was born to a poor mother, an uneducated mother, an unwanting mother, a mother too young, a mother too old, an abusive mother, or anyone else not wanting a baby for any reason, good or bad. Republicans are pro-birth NOT pro-life. The “sanctity” of that human life isn’t so sanctimonious when that child needs free health care, free day care, free food, free drink, free diapers, free vaccinations, and a free education. The same people who insist on these children being brought to term are the same ones denying them a chance at life once they’re here. If you think the families some of these kids would be born into are going to provide a healthy environment, you’re simply blind.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been following some of the debate for decades, and I’ve noticed that a lot of pro-lifers seem to see the baby as the punishment for having sex; part of that punishment is the enormous financial burden. I’ve actually seen the phrase “You did the crime, now you do the time” applied.

      Now, I am very much in support of having people shoulder their responsibilities. But this thing is a baby, and then a child, and it knows if its parents didn’t want it, if it is the source of unhappiness, if it is a burden. Sometimes the parents tell it outright. And, while I think abortion is not a trivial thing, but a terribly sad, tough decision, perhaps it is better to never have been born than to be born into anger, neglect, abuse, or even just disinterest.

      Of course, we could just reduce accidental pregnancies by providing free, comprehensive education and birth control.

      What I don’t understand is, when pro-lifers are so much against terminating pregnancies, why are so many against the relationships that will never result in an accidental pregnancy to terminate? You know, the gay ones?

    • Anonymous

      You are absolutely right. It is a simple equation. We ARE our brothers keepers. If we abdicate when they are infants and young children, we end up paying for treatment centers, disability or the worst case scenario incarceration. We are going to spend the money anyway, why not be humane? I don’t understand why some people don’t get that. Nor do I understand that this type of arguement would be needed to realize the tenents of their religion. But then, prisons are big business these days.

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