By Tom Chapman
The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) is asking for support of House File 5 which, with limited exceptions, prohibits abortions after 20 weeks in the womb. The ICC believes it would be the first legislation passed in Iowa to restrict abortion in more than a decade. More than 70 percent of Americans agree that abortion should be illegal in the second trimester of pregnancy, much less the third.
In another pro-life related issue, House Concurrent Resolution 8 calls upon the federal Food and Drug Administration to rescind approval of ulipristal acetate (“Ella”) as an emergency contraceptive. Scientific evidence indicates that ulipristal can act as an abortifacient (which means it can cause abortion). Women are taking it believing it is only a contraceptive, but may be unaware it can have an abortifacient effect. This raises issues with informed consent as well.
The ICC also supports House File 87, which would reduce family planning dollars that go to abortion providers in the state. House File 153, House Joint Resolution 3 and Senate Joint Resolution 2, recognize that life should be protected from the moment of conception. The shorthand for these bills is that they deal with “personhood.”
All persons of goodwill should agree with the idea underlying the bills. We should protect life from its earliest moments and embrace a common goal of saving the unborn.
At the same time, the bishops of the Catholic Church generally agree that pursuing a personhood strategy in state legislation is not a good legal strategy. The intent is good, but so is the probability of such legislation being struck down by our current courts and possibly leading to a reaffirmation of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.
State law cannot trump the current interpretation of the federal Constitution and could jeopardize hard-won protections in many states. Instead, we need a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Senate File 113, introduced this week, would put in place a 36 percent interest rate cap on payday loans. A group pushing for payday loan reform says it expects to see legislation soon that would cap payday annual interest rates at 36 percent after a new survey showed overwhelming support for such legislation. Sixty-nine percent of registered voters in Iowa would support a change in state law that lowers the maximum annual interest rates that payday lenders can charge. Only 11 percent said they would oppose such legislation.
Payday loans are short-term cash advances, usually for $300 to $500, based on the borrower’s personal check held for future deposit (the next pay day), or on electronic access to the borrower’s bank account. Currently interest rates can reach up to 400 percent. The ICC supports Senate File 113.
House File 27 and Senate File 102 are related bills on immigration enforcement. In addition to putting into place additional local mechanisms, as HF 27 does, SF 102 would: make it illegal for any public or private school to provide an identification card to an undocumented student; make it illegal to transport any unauthorized alien (a person couldn’t give him or her a ride in a car). In addition, the bill provides that any legal resident may file for a “writ of mandamus” to compel local or state authorities to comply with the information sharing with the federal government required in the bill. We believe this is unnecessary because of the Secure Communities program already being put into place.
Senate File 101 would prohibit the use of restraints on a pregnant inmate when she is in labor. We support the bill for humanitarian reasons as the prisoner poses little risk for escape and it contains exceptions if the public is at risk. Shackling of the inmate can reduce the physician’s ability to evaluate the physical condition of the mother and the fetus, and similarly make the labor and delivery process more difficult than it needs to be.
(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)