Last year, the Republican-controlled Iowa House of Representatives voted to fully defund Planned Parenthood, but the Democrat-controlled Senate voted the bill down.
With the GOP now in control of both chambers, a new version of that same legislation is already rolling toward approval. But that may be the least of abortionists' worries this legislative session.
The decision to fully de-fund Planned Parenthood comes with a $3 million "price tag" in the form of the loss of a federal block grant for Medicaid. But the state plans to tap into another federal grant to replace that money, directing it only to healthcare providers who do not provide abortions.
Gov. Terry Branstad, who will soon retire to become President-elect Donald Trump's ambassador to China, urged lawmakers to act quickly to defund the abortion industry in the state in his final Condition of the State speech. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who will take over for him, also supports the move.
This week, however, Sen. Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa) introduced Senate File 26, a bill that would allow any woman who has received an abortion at any time to sue the physician who performed the abortion for emotional distress caused by the procedure. The bill passed almost immediately out of its subcommittee on a party-line vote, sending it to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.
Planned Parenthood decried the bill, claiming that 95 percent of women who have abortions do not regret their decision—based on a three-year-old study of less than 700 women conducted by the University of San Francisco. Other documented studies, with larger samples, found the following statistics:
- within the first few weeks, between 40 and 60 percent of women questioned report negative reactions;
- within eight weeks after their abortions, 55 percent expressed guilt, 44 percent complained of nervous disorders, 36 percent had experienced sleep disturbances, 31 percent had regrets about their decision and 11 percent had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor;
- up to 10 percent were classified as having developed "serious psychiatric complications";
- 30 to 50 percent of post-abortion women report experiencing sexual dysfunctions, of both short and long duration, beginning immediately after their abortions; and
- among teenage abortion patients, half suffered a worsening of psychosocial functioning within seven months after the abortion.
The University of Colorado came to this conclusion:
Among the most worrisome of these reactions is the increase of self-destructive behavior among post-abortion women. In a survey of over 100 women who had suffered from post-abortion trauma, fully 80 percent expressed feelings of "self-hatred." In the same study, 49 percent reported drug abuse and 39 percent began to use or increased their use of alcohol. Approximately 14 percent described themselves as having become "addicted" or "alcoholic" after their abortions. In addition, 60 percent reported suicidal ideation, with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times.
But there was even more bad news for Planned Parenthood this week. Previously, the state's nine individual pro-life groups had often sought their own separate agendas, which made it difficult to marshal the political clout necessary to get things accomplished at the Statehouse.
Those days are over.
Seven of the groups signed a declaration, with the support of the remaining two, that states:
As we are all representatives of Iowa organizations with the intent to eliminate abortion and any of its related industries for both moral and legal reasons in our state;
As we all agree that the legislature of our state needs guidance from citizens and religious leaders to maintain its moral compass;
As we all agree that every life, from the time of conception, must have a voice and be protected by the laws of any moral state;
We hereby bind together under the name of God, without malice or ill intent, with unity of purpose and all deference and humility toward the cause, our organizations under this coalition with the following principles:
We shall represent the pro-life point of view before all public officials, accepting that some diversity of strategy may exist, but we all value saving lives of the unborn;
We shall train leaders and volunteers for effective social and political action and dissemination of factual information, documentation and publications supporting the cause;
We shall inform pro-life voters about timely issues and legislation and arm them with facts to aid our public officials in the completion of good and just works furthering the cause of protecting the unborn;
We shall challenge pro-abortion deception in the public arena;
We shall convert pro-choice or undecided citizens to the cause for life with factual information, understanding and compassion.
Today, the pro-life community needs to play an active role in government like never before. If we are going to change policy and influence decisions, it is imperative that people of faith and moral fiber should commit to doing the hard work, with the forbearance and tenacity to achieve our goals without recognition to ourselves, but to give that glory to God.
We are driven by the belief that people have the right and responsibility to be involved in the world around them, and our coalition is committed to representing the pro-life cause and educating Iowans on the critical issues facing our society. We hereby pledge, with our signature to this document, to achieve these common goals presented here.
The FAMiLY Leader, the Christian pro-family activist organization that spearheaded the unification effort, released a brief statement about the declaration in which its leader, Bob Vander Plaats, noted this was the first time the Iowa pro-life movement was unified in the 44 years since Roe v. Wade:
"It is great to be a witness and a participant in such a historic pro-life event. Never has society been so ready or the time been more right for change. This coalition looking through a common lens with a singular focus, saving unborn lives, will help make those changes happen."
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