Recent legislation aims to outlaw abortion

Aimee Burch

State legislatures, including those in Iowa, recently proposed changes that could drastically alter the current stance on the legalization of abortion.

House File 2298, introduced last week in the Iowa Legislature by Rep. Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill, proposes an outright ban on abortion. Anyone who intentionally ends a pregnancy could face up to a life sentence in prison, even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

This proposed legislation comes at the same time as state senators in Oklahoma passed a bill titled the “Personhood Act.” Under this legislation, the state law will protect unborn children’s individual rights from the moment of conception. The bill now moves to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where it will find a heavy Republican contingent.

Members of the pro-life movement applaud these pieces of legislature for inching closer to outlawing abortion.

“Our strategy is to put value on human life in society,” said Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for L.I.F.E. “Society devalues human life, and abortion devalues human life.”

She cited Personhood USA, the national movement, as an organization aimed to educate citizens on the passage of these personhood mandates.

DeWitte said the primary mission of her organization is to educate others about the sanctity of life. They feel it is important to value human life and everyone deserves access to these individual rights, including unborn children. Because of that, DeWitte said, abortion is unlawful.

“I don’t know the exact wording of all pieces of legislation, but the tenant of each remains the same for all in terms of defining personhood,” DeWitte said. “This is a fundamental, basic human rights issue that all life is valued.”

Those on the pro-choice side have also made their voices heard. Shelby Cloke, public relations manager for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said these pieces of legislation put a woman’s health in jeopardy.

“A woman has an abortion for many different reasons,” Cloke said. “Laws restricting access to abortion care will not reduce the number of women seeking abortion care, it will only make it more difficult and challenging for a woman to receive safe, quality care.”

Cloke says that her organization feels concerned that these proposed bills put women’s health in jeopardy, calling them “an attack on women of all ages, income levels and status by anti-choice extremists trying to circumvent Roe v. Wade.” She said that abortion should not be outlawed because it is a safe, legal medical practice that women want and need. At Planned Parenthood, she said, women are presented with all options regarding pregnancy, from adoption to abortion to prenatal care.

Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates recognize that many states have passed or are attempting to pass anti-abortion legislation. As far as House File 2298 goes in Iowa, DeWitte feels that it has a slim chance of passing, citing the current makeup of the state legislature as a deciding factor.

Cloke and Planned Parenthood did not speculate on the chances of House File 2298 passing but did that they are still very concerned about any bill that threatens to alter the landscape of women’s health care.

“We are hopeful that Iowa lawmakers will focus on the issues that matter most to Iowans-creating jobs and fixing the economy,” Cloke said. “Politics should never be involved in a woman’s private health care decisions.”

However, DeWitte and Iowans for L.I.F.E. still feel it is important to educate citizens about abortion and personhood rights.

“Pay attention to what’s happening and read bills,” DeWitte said. “Don’t be afraid to contact representatives and let your voice be heard.”