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Pro-Life Activists Gather To Support Life At Iowa Capitol

Pro-life activists gather around stuffed crib of baby shoes representing half of the 4,000 lives lost each year to abortion in Iowa

Pro-life activists gather around stuffed crib of baby shoes representing half of the 4,000 lives lost each year to abortion in Iowa


Hundreds of pro-life activists gathered at the Capitol on Thursday in response to a call to action by the Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders of Iowa.  This followed the passage of a SF 471 which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the House Human Resources committee on Wednesday.  The bill awaits debate on the House floor.

The program was emceed by talk show host Simon Conway of WHO Radio in Des Moines and WMT Radio in Cedar Rapids and FAMiLY Leader spokesman Bob Vander Plaats.  A crib filled with 2,000 pairs of baby shoes stood in the middle of the rotunda, representing only half of the 4,000 lives lost to abortion in Iowa every year.  In his opening comments, Vander Plaats cited the Constitution as evidence that everyone has a right to life.

“John Quincy Adams pointed out the first unalienable unalienable right listed in the Constitution; the right to life.  Without that right, none of the others matter.  It is the government’s job to protect that right, not destroy it.”

Vander Plaats continued by urging Senators and Representatives to take advantage of their victory in November by “Seizing the day.  On November 8th, we won an election with pro-life legislators.  Not only did they get control of the House and Senate chambers and we have the Governor’s office, but even Mike Gronstal was defeated on November 8th!  But with this leadership and opportunity comes huge responsibility and huge accountability.  The Scriptures say “Be bold and be courageous.  A 20 week ban may be a good baby step.  But that is not life at conception.  This group of 35 organizations believes that life begins at conception until natural death as God ordained it, and that is the type of leadership we are looking for.  Some will say that’s hard.  Some have made the argument that we cannot pass that kind of legislation because it will surely die in the courts.  I say let us go to court and have the debate.  These unelected Justices should not have the final say in whether a baby lives or dies, and let us have the argument in court so that Iowa can lead the way in overturning Roe v. Wade.

Speakers included Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R, Shell Rock), Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer (R, Clear Lake), pro-life legislators Senator Amy Sinclair (R, Allerton), Senator Brad Zaun (R, Urbandale), Senator Jake Chapman (R, Adel), Representative Steve Holt (R, Denison), Representative Sandy Salmon (R, Janesville), Representative Walt Rogers (R, Cedar Falls), Representative Skyler Wheeler (R, Orange City), and Jenifer Bowen and Martin Cannon of the Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders.

Majority Leader Dix thanked everyone for coming to express their support for pro-life legislation.

“You are a breath of fresh air.  You remind us what our priorities are and why we are here.”

Governor Branstad followed by reminding the crowd that in his Condition of the State, he stated his intention to eliminate taxpayer funding of clinics that perform abortions.

Speaker Upmeyer sympathized with those who wanted to push further with pro-life legislation.  “But we have to remember that this is the most pro-life legislation that we have passed in decades.  And we’re not going to stop with this.  We are going to continue evaluating what we can do to protect the unborn.  Female legislators are being asked “How can you be a woman and support this legislation?”  But my question is, “How can you be a woman and not support life?”  As women, we’ve carried those babies before anyone else saw their beautiful faces.  We’ve seen the ultrasounds and known that’s a life…that she’s a baby.”

Senator Sinclair mentioned the threats that she and other pro-life lawmakers have received for “hating women”.

“I have been told that there is a special place in Hell for me.  If that is the case, then I will gladly live there.  I will take that place in Hell for defending those whose lives have been taken from them.  If I do not, I have no moral authority to stand and defend my life either.  Please stand with me today as you are to defend the lives of every human being upon Earth.”

Simon Conway then introduced Representative Holt, a former Marine, who said, “It is tragic that we even have to be here today in front of these thousands of pairs of shoes that represent the unborn children who are aborted in Iowa each year.”  He then asked the crowd if they felt that the lives of the unborn matter, and started a chant of “Unborn lives matter”.

“From the moment of conception, an unborn child has a unique DNA code, separate from their parents.  A unique human being.  A unique human soul.  At 18-21 days, that child has a heartbeat.  Organs are functioning at eight weeks, and that unborn child can suck their thumb.  Fingerprints appear at nine weeks, and at ten weeks, that unborn child is perfectly formed, and can feel pain.  That precious unborn child can smile at 12 weeks, perhaps at the sound of their mother’s voice.  The question of when life begins is really the only issue that matters in this debate.  If supported by facts and life does start at natural conception and ends at natural death, then all Constitutional protections must apply to that child in the womb.  Our Declaration of Independence says that we are “created equal”.  It doesn’t say that we are “born equal”, and I believe that means from conception.  We all know that when the heart stops, life ends.  Only living things have heartbeats.  So since we use the absence of the human heartbeat as the determination of the end of life, why would it not be logical for us to use the beginning of the human heartbeat as the definition of the beginning of human life?  The science may not be convenient, but we know that unborn lives matter.  Every day in Iowa, a kindergarten class is aborted.  The 20 week bill would save 51 lives a year, but that is not enough.  As a Marine, I know what it is like to prepare the battlefield, and we have to prepare the battlefield.  That means that each of you in attendance must be asking those seeking office, “Will you support life at conception legislation?”  The answer must be a resounding “Yes!” or another candidate must be found.  But ultimately, we will win, because we know that unborn lives matter!”

Representative Salmon compared Roe v. Wade to the Dred v. Scott decision regarding slavery.

“Dred v. Scott could not stand.  It was overturned and slavery was outlawed.  And I daresay that Roe v. Wade is next on the chopping block.  Roe v. Wade made profit by their example, but justice will wake up, and the right to life and the protections of the Constitution will be granted to unborn children and that will become the law of the land.”

Representative Rogers called on pro-life advocates to use the Iowa Right To Life fetus replicas as part of their defense of human life, holding up his own model as an example.

“I challenge all of you to use these as part of your model, as part of your argument in your defense.  Make it part of the discussion,” said Rogers.

Representative Wheeler said that the majority of people he talked to while he was campaigning said that “abortion should be outlawed entirely”.

Jenifer Bowen talked about state House and Senate races that were targeted unsuccessfully by the abortion industry and highlighted the 93 of 99 counties that did not vote for the pro-abortion candidate.  She also said that Iowa had 29 abortion clinics with six more slated to open seven years ago.

“But did they succeed?  No, they did not.  16 of their clinics closed, and not one of those six that were scheduled to open for abortions, ever happened.  In fact, in those areas, we saw a the rise of  pro-life support.”

Martin Cannon concluded that we can no longer blame the courts for upholding abortion laws and that the legislature needs to take responsibility.

“We have been allowing Roe v. Wade to dictate laws.  It’s time to make laws that dismantle Roe v. Wade.”

The 20 week abortion ban now awaits a vote in the Iowa House.


MacKenzie Dreeszen is a legislative assistant in the Iowa House and a political consultant specializing in fundraising