Education, webcam abortions addressed in Iowa Legislature


By Tom Chapman

Tom Chapman

A subcommittee met to discuss Senate File 2019, which would limit the shackling (restraint) of pregnant inmates. The Iowa Cath­olic Conference (ICC) supports the bill for humanitarian reasons to help protect the health of the mother and child. There are exceptions in the bill for situations when the inmate poses a danger to herself or others. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be considering the bill.
I’ve been working with legislators regarding the proposal for an increase in the minimum wage and hope to see some movement soon.
State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey testified about the state’s voluntary water quality strategy last week to a joint meeting of the House Agriculture and Environmental Protection Com­mittees. The strategy’s goal is to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. These nutrients can cause problems with water quality. For more information, visit www.nutrientstrategy.
In other news, House Study Bill 559 advanced out of subcommittee. The bill cleans up some details from last year’s education reform bill. It clarifies what can be counted as instructional hours in a school, as well as allows a nonpublic school to apply for the same waiver of its annual calendar as public schools.
Several bills that the ICC supports were introduced in the legislature last week:
House File 2090 would authorize the state to fund an Education Savings Account for each student who would attend an accredited nonpublic school. The amount would be the average basic state aid for public school students, this year about $5,580. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, and/or some private instruction, tutoring or training.
House File 2073 would prohibit the provision of abortion drugs through a videoconference. The “webcam” chemical abortion procedure begins with a video consultation between the physician and mother at different locations. Pills are delivered to the pregnant woman when the physician activates a switch that opens a drawer in front of the mother at a remote site. She takes the first pill at the doctor’s direction, during the remote interview. Another pill is taken later, at home, on a prescribed schedule. If the procedure is “successful,” the woman loses the baby in the following days.
We oppose all abortions, no matter the method, but when abortions are taking place, the safety and informed consent of the women involved should be among our chief concerns. We believe the bill would help ensure that complications following the abortion will be more easily recognized.
In addition, we support House File 2082, which would provide a tax credit for parents who adopt in Iowa.
A new bill providing for a temporary (renewable) visitor driver’s license, Senate File 2087, has been introduced. We think the bill would improve roadway safety and help people get to work and provide for their families.
 (Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)

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