A new bill offered last week in the Iowa House of Representatives aims to define that phrase in a very specific way. House File 115 is sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Winsdchitl (R-Missouri Valley).
The proposed legislation applies only to the criminal code. However, it declares a person as “all living human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human organisms regardless of age, race, sex, gender, capacity to function, condition of physical or mental dependency or disability, or method of sexual or asexual reproduction used, whether existing in vivo or in vitro, and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and the laws of this state.”
In other words, it criminalizes abortion, or any other act against a person who is not yet born, that causes injury or death. It does, however, appear to offer a “loophole” for the use of RU 486 – also known as the “day after drug” – and other abortifacient “contraceptive” drugs.
In the case of abortions, the pregnant mother would not be criminalized by the proposed legislation. Rather, the physician or technician performing the procedure would face criminal prosecution.
HF 115 also does not provide any “pecuniary interest or citizenship status” upon the person who is not yet born, nor his or her parents, prior to live birth.
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The Family Planning Council of Iowa, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the League of Women Voters of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa are all opposed to the proposed legislation.
The Iowa Catholic Conference has declared it is “undecided” on HF 115.
“I fully believe that life begins at conception and this bill would recognize that by defining crimes against a person,” Windschitl said. “I am under no illusion that if the bill were to pass the House that the Senate would move on it. ”
He said the bill was not the product of any negotiations with other legislators in either party. He added, “I’ll do what I can to move it forward, but I also understand that the Senate is not inclined to move this type of legislation.”