Living in Society

From a Dizzy Place

State Capitol

I woke up dizzy on Tuesday and it delayed the start of my day for about six hours. By that I mean I didn’t get going until ten o’clock and had limited activity outside the house.

I feel better today, but sleep was broken around midnight by following the Iowa House debate on Senate File 359, “a bill for an act prohibiting certain actions regarding fetal body parts and providing penalties.”

Rep. Mary Mascher of Iowa City objected to the bill’s title after the final vote, saying it wasn’t the bill they debated. Nonetheless it passed with 51 votes after wheeling and dealing among Republicans and was immediately messaged to the Iowa Senate. Changes to the bill are reflected in S-5288. The play-by-play with role call votes on amendments and final passage is here.

What’s confusing to a lay person reading the day after House Journal is news coverage framed this debate as on the “fetal heart beat” bill which restricts abortion once a heart beat is detected in a fetus. There is much more to the bill than that.

Republican intent was to make the bill language just vague enough for the law to be challenged in the court system, hopefully taking the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Whether that happened or will happen is foggy at best and beyond my pay grade.

My state representative is a “pro-life candidate” and voted for the bill. When we called him out on this position during the 2012 campaign our efforts did not move the needle in the final vote tally. At least it didn’t move it enough to win a majority of voters.

There is a lesson here about politics. The Republican Party of Iowa just passed the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country. There was no bipartisanship in the House vote. There was no middle ground. There was no moderate position here. Either a voter believes a woman has a right to choose an abortion in compliance with current law or they do not.

While I may have been dizzy yesterday I am not today. Last night’s vote, anticipated early in the session, brought clarity physical ailment can’t obscure. On this and many issues Democrats can run if they set aside hyperbole and focus on the fact this law was brought to us by Republicans. If we are able to do it we can flip the legislature and bring common sense and decency back to Iowa.