By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger
A bill to prohibit the trafficking and use of fetal tissue following an abortion has stalled in the Iowa Legislature. House File 2329 was set to be debated last week on the floor of the House; however, on March 3 the state Board of Regents came out publicly against the bill. The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) infers from this opposition that the University of Iowa wants to protect its ability to continue using fetal tissue from abortions in research.
The ICC supports HF 2329. The church teaches that the use of this fetal tissue is unethical because it is obtained as a result of an abortion. The church does not support the abuse of one group (the unborn) for the benefit of others.
Iowans are encouraged to send a message to their legislators in support of HF 2329. The bill needs to be passed by the House and out of a Senate committee by Friday, March 11, to meet the second legislative deadline. In other news:
Nonpublic school celebration
About 800 people attended the Education Celebration of nonpublic schools at the State Capitol on March 1. It was a great showing, with legislators surrounded by a sea of students in “School Choice Now” T-shirts. The event marked a decade of Iowa’s School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit program. Speakers at the rally included Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow and a few parents of students enrolled in nonpublic schools.
“Over the past 10 years, the STO tax credit has empowered thousands of Iowa families with the ability to play a role in their child’s education,” said Trish Wilger, executive director of Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education.
Donors to School Tuition Organizations (STOs) receive a 65 percent state tax credit. STOs in turn give out those funds as scholarship grants to lower-income students to attend one of Iowa’s accredited, nonpublic schools. Nearly $100 million in scholarships have been given as a result of the program.
On the same day, the Iowa House passed a bill (HF 2321) that would get rid of the July 2020 repeal date of provisions that require the state to accept the accreditation of a nonpublic school by one of six private accrediting organizations. While Catholic schools remain accredited by the state, rather than the private groups, the ICC has supported HF 2321 as an option for schools.
Even though the assisted suicide bills are dead for the session, there was another subcommittee meeting on the subject March 3. Dr. Bruce Van Houweling of Solon, the state head of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, pointed out how the safeguards and oversight contained in the bill are inadequate. Proponents vowed to try again next year with another bill.
The RefugeeRISE bill (SF 2298) passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee with only two “no” votes. The bill implements the proposed expansion of the RefugeeRISE program but makes it contingent on an appropriation from the legislature.
Studying the causes of violence
The ICC supports SF 2269, which passed the Senate 49-0 earlier this month and went to the House. It is currently in the Public Safety Committee. The bill would require the state’s public safety advisory board to provide research and make recommendations about violence causation and prevention in local communities throughout the state.
Governor to sign juvenile confidentiality bill
The ICC is pleased that the House passed SF 2288 last week and sent it to the governor for his signature. The bill generally makes court records of juveniles confidential in delinquency cases unless the act committed would have been a forcible felony if done by an adult. The ICC has supported the bill as a way to help young people not carry along the effects of a relatively minor mistake made while a juvenile.
Children typically have better prospects for reform.
Anti-hunger day coming up
The Iowa Food Bank Association is coordinating the 2016 Iowa Anti-Hunger Day on the Hill at the Iowa State Capitol on Wednesday, March 30. This is a day to bring awareness of the thousands of Iowans struggling with hunger. To register go to www.eventbrite.com and search on “Iowa anti-hunger day.”