- Associated Press - Monday, April 8, 2019

Des Moines Register. April 2, 2019

A fetus is not its own person, despite Iowa GOP’s pursuit of extreme anti-abortion agenda

From funding basic state services to cleaning up Iowa’s filthy waterways, there is plenty the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature needs to do. Yet lawmakers again insist on prioritizing an anti-abortion agenda that panders to extremists.

The GOP is pushing an amendment to the Iowa Constitution specifying the state “does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Translation: Codify in the state’s most important document that women do not have a right to legal medical intervention.

Then there is Senate File 523, which would increase the criminal penalty for causing the death of an “unborn person.”

No, there is no epidemic of pregnancy-ending crimes in Iowa, but this bill would get tough on someone who gets into a car crash with a woman who happens to be pregnant. The offender could receive life in prison without parole if the pregnancy is ended.

The original bill brought up for debate in the Senate was viewed as bipartisan, but an amendment changed language to define an unborn person as “fertilization to live birth.” The Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill, and early this week, a House subcommittee advanced it. That may be as far as this legislation goes, but don’t expect its backers to give up.

Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, who managed the bill’s passage in the Senate, claimed it was unrelated to abortion. The legislation is all about abortion.

Giving a fertilized egg the same rights and protections as a person lays the groundwork to ban terminating a pregnancy. The legislation is yet another attempt by GOP lawmakers to define when life begins - like they did with the “fetal heartbeat” law struck down by a court as unconstitutional.

“Finally, we have a bill that recognizes the dignity and rights of that human child in the womb, the same as the human life that’s carrying that child,” Chapman said.

Despite what he wants to believe, a fetus is not its own person.

Not for tax purposes. Not for life insurance. Not by the U.S. Census. Not when you buy a movie ticket or kids meal at a restaurant. A pregnant woman who drinks a glass of wine is not serving alcohol to a minor. Governments issue birth certificates, not conception certificates.

Women seeking in vitro fertilization or birth control or who have had miscarriages could be caught in the cross hairs of the misguided efforts to limit abortion.

A concerned reader contacted the Register last week to point out a miscarriage is frequently referred to as a “spontaneous abortion” in medical parlance. She said medical treatment following the unintentional loss of a pregnancy could appear in health records or billing codes as an abortion.

If a fetus is a person, perhaps miscarriages will need to be investigated.

Unfortunately, Republicans do not seem to be considering the real-world repercussions of their agenda: wasting the time of state employees charged with implementing laws, the cost of lawsuits over extreme anti-abortion measures, constitutional rights, individual liberty, women or access to health care.

At the rate GOP lawmakers are going, soon every pregnant woman in Iowa is going to need a lawyer.


Sioux City Journal. April 4, 2019.

Iowa survey produces troubling numbers on teens, suicide

These deeply disturbing numbers in a recent Iowa Department of Public Health survey should force all Iowans to sit up and take notice:

(asterisk) One in 10 Iowa teens report “having a plan to kill themselves,” a 53 percent increase since 2012.

(asterisk) One in 20 Iowa teens have attempted suicide within the last year.

The study for 2018, which was released in March, included more than 70,000 teens in grades six, eight and 11.

Achieving a decline in the troubling, unacceptable statistics about teen suicide in our state must be a priority.

We believe one significant contribution to what should be a state strategy is a bill passed by the Iowa House last month through which the framework of a new state board-supervised mental health care system for children will be created. We urge Senate approval of a companion bill.

The legislation shouldn’t and we don’t believe will represent the end of discussion about issues like teen suicides or children and mental health in Iowa, but rather it’s a valuable, if not overdue step in the right direction.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Iowans age 15 to 34 and is the third-leading cause of death for Iowa children age 10 to 14. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens age 15 to 19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Reports of suicide in teens have increased almost 200 percent since the 1960s, compared to a 17 percent increase in the general population,” Foundation 2, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, not-for-profit human service agency offering crisis prevention and intervention programs to people of all ages, reports on its website.

The response of Iowa to teens and suicide isn’t limited to state government. Indeed, all Iowans - families and friends, educators, health care professionals and public leaders - must be engaged for progress to happen on this front.

It will, to use the words of a well-known, oft-quoted saying, take a village.


Fort Dodge Messenger. April 4, 2019

Helping those who need help is the Iowa way

When the Missouri River recently surged out of its banks and turned southwest Iowa and parts of Nebraska into a giant pond, the true character of Iowans shined through once again.

People across Iowa, even those with no connection to the flooded area, are pitching in to collect money, bottled water, hay for livestock and other supplies to be sent to those who are impacted by this disaster.

And they’re not limiting their generosity to their fellow Iowans. Some of the material is going to flooded areas of Nebraska.

People in the Fort Dodge area are part of this grassroots relief effort. For example, Heidi Lau, of Fort Dodge, is leading an effort to gather everything from paper towels to snacks. She’s already filled her vehicle with items she’s collected and delivered them to her sister-in-law, who will take the materials to the flood zone.

Jen Birkey, of Barnum, went to the flood zone with the group Emergency Evacuation Pet Rescue. While there, she helped rescue horses, dogs and goats.

Tristan Novak, of Manson, used his excavator and boat to help with the animal rescue effort.

And area residents are contributing money to help send drywall made in Fort Dodge to the flooded town of Hamburg, where it will be put to use rebuildingwaterlogged homes. The effort was inspired by Matt Peters, a former Fort Dodge resident who now lives in Hamburg. By Wednesday afternoon, a site taking donations had nearly reached the hoped-for $5,000.

No government official told anyone to do any of this.

The people just did it.

That’s the way we Iowans are. We’re generally a humble bunch who don’t toot our own horns.

But the truth about Iowans is that we’re more than that.

We’re a kind and generous group of people who take care of our own and, when the occasion calls for it, everyone else we can possibly help.

That’s us.

That’s Iowa.

That’s why we live here, and that’s what we strive for.

Let’s never change.


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