Iowa Catholic Conference provides status update on legislation


By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger

The first legislative deadline or “funnel,” at the Iowa State Capitol was March 5. A bill must have passed its first committee by then or it is considered dead for the session. Budget and tax bills, however, don’t have a deadline. During the next couple of weeks, the House and Senate will focus on debating bills passed by committee.

• The House Judiciary Committee passed HF 442, a bill that would provide additional legal protections for mobile home park residents. An amendment was approved which makes the bill just a blank placeholder for future negotiations as they work something out.

• The same committee also passed a bill regarding fundamental parental rights (HF 714). The bill intends to codify current case law in Iowa that the right to direct the care and education of a child is a parent’s fundamental right.

• HSB 240, which passed the House Education Committee, would double the tuition and textbook tax credit taken by parents to 25% of the first $2,000 in educational expenses.

• The committee also passed HSB 242 to allow private nonprofit groups to run charter schools. The Student First scholarship program, HSB 243, passed a subcommittee but was not considered for a vote by the full Education Committee. The program would offer state-funded scholarships for some public school students to attend a nonpublic school. A diverse number of parents were present to speak in favor of the bill. What the Legislature finally passes regarding parental choice in education has not yet been decided.

• The Senate State Govern­ment Committee, unfortunately, did not consider a bill introduced last week, SF 508, which would have improved statistical reporting of abortions. SF 508 would have helped address assertions that we have heard about the safety of abortion and complications. The public would also have received some aggregated data to help inform discussions about other public policy questions. Were the mothers objects of abuse? Do more abortions occur because women see no other choice economically? Are baby girls or those with genetic abnormalities aborted at greater rates?

In addition, the committee did not bring up SF 436, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have provided a basic balancing test between the state’s interest in regulating an area of law and the burden that places on a person’s religious practice. Sometimes people assume this bill only has to do with LGBTQ issues but that’s not so. Here’s an example: Iowa’s constitution currently says a person has a fundamental right to an abortion. Iowa also has a law that allows medical personnel to decline to participate in an abortion. Let’s say a nurse at a hospital is asked to assist with an elective abortion of a baby with a genetic anomaly. She refuses to assist and the hospital fires her. This is a scenario where the RFRA would give the nurse an argument in court — that’s all.

• Finally, HF 703 did not advance. The bill, supported by the ICC, would have required the Labor Commissioner to adopt standards on the mitigation of infectious diseases during medical emergencies, including COVID, by employers. It also required prioritization of inspections.

List of bills: alive and dead

Following the funnel deadline, here are some bills that are alive:

• Constitutional amendment clarifying that abortion is not a fundamental right — support

• Constitutional amendment providing voting rights to people coming out of prison — support

• Penalties for human trafficking — support

• State-funded scholarships for students to attend nonpublic school — support

• Increase in tuition and textbook tax credit — support

• Legal protections for mobile home park residents — support

• Codifying case law on parents’ rights — support

• Phase-out for child care assistance “cliff effect” — support

• Increase tax credit for adoptive parents — support

• Requiring employers to treat employees who adopt a child in the same manner as biological parents of a child for the purposes of employment policies — support

• Providing a birth certificate for non-viable birth (miscarriages) — support

• Affordable housing funds/ eviction protection — support• Penalties for elder abuse —support

• Eliminating permits to carry weapons — oppose

• Requiring use of e-verify by businesses — oppose

• Cutting benefits for unemployed workers — oppose

• New asset test for food stamp recipients — oppose

• Over the counter contraception — oppose

• Allowing landlords to refuse federal Section 8 housing vouchers as payment — oppose

Here are a few issues that didn’t make it past the deadline:

• Requiring public schools to offer special ed at the location of the nonpublic school — support

• New committee to review commutations of life sentences – support

• Improved reporting on abortion complications and causes — support

• “Alternatives to abortion” program funding — support

• Bringing back the death penalty — oppose

• Legalization of assisted suicide — oppose

Some of these issues may return as appropriations bills or amendments.

(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)

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‘Faith-based’ direct care center opens

Anne Marie Amacher
Julie DeLeon, left, and Dr. Julie Schroeder prepare for an upcoming appointment at Life & Family Medical in Bettendorf. The new direct care facility is adjacent to the Women’s Choice Center.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — Encouraging the physical and spiritual wellness of individuals is the focus of Life & Family Medical’s new Direct Primary Care facility (DPC). The center is located in the former Planned Parenthood building, next door to the Women’s Choice Center.

Dr. Julie Schroeder is the primary care physician and assisted by Julie DeLeon, a certified medical assistant, who have worked together for more than 15 years. They are the DPC’s only employees.
Life & Family Medical is “faith based,” Schroeder said.

Prior to joining Life & Family, Schroeder said she had been researching information on direct care. “I was very intrigued. People are not getting the care they need. This is a different way to get to them.” This is the first DPC center in the Diocese of Davenport. There are a few in the Des Moines area, Waterloo, Iowa, and Peoria, Illinois.

She emphasized that everyone should see a physician on a regular basis whether at Life & Family or elsewhere. General medical professionals work to catch patients’ potential health issues earlier and thus reduce the need to see a specialist. “We work on prevention.” Sometimes just changing a behavior can lead to a healthier lifestyle, she said.

What is direct care?

Schroeder said direct care restores the doctor-patient relationship. It also puts individuals in control of their health care choices — not the insurance company. Direct care patients pay a flat fee for services, which covers all wellness visits, chronic illness visits and physicals, including sports physicals. Those visits will last longer than a typical physician’s visit because of the limited number of clients Schroeder will see overall. She also anticipates working patients into her schedule in a timelier manner.

The average office visit is now 8 minutes in many practices, she said. “Your standard appointment with us is 30 minutes. You don’t have to take that whole time. And some may go a bit longer,” Schroeder said.

She can also do minor suturing, simple lesion removals or biopsies (extra pathology fee may apply), lab tests for rapid strep, urine dip and pregnancy tests, ear wax irrigation and telemedicine visits when appropriate.

Fee for service is primarily based on age, paid monthly whether seen or not. Insurance is not accepted. Blood draws can be done in the office or at the lab with whom the DPC partners, at a reduced cost. Schroeder has partnered with a pharmacy to obtain medication at reduced costs. Medications she does not have on hand can be ordered within one to two days, she said.

Patients with questions may call or text Schroeder. “It’s like having a family member who is a physician.” As an example, a patient might have a rash and can send her a picture to determine whether a visit is necessary. Those calls/texts are logged into the electronic medical record as well.

Schroeder is working with other diagnostic facilities to offer radiology services such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs. She also is working with a pharmacy to offer immunizations and vaccinations.

Each client is encouraged to keep a health insurance plan because the direct care model does not cover hospitalizations, surgeries and some other medical expenses. She noted families might be able to buy a cheaper plan that covers the larger expense items such as hospitalizations.

Currently, she is in the office three days a week. As the practice grows, she plans to expand hours. Her goal is to cap the practice at around 400 patients. Some patients may need to be seen just once a year. Others with medical conditions might need to be seen twice a year or more often.

DeLeon can do blood draws and some other medical tests, do referrals, set up appointments and take care of phone inquiries. “I can see the relationship (between doctor and patient) here. We get to know them.”

Spiritual aspect

Schroeder said in current family practice, physicians are discouraged from talking about the spiritual aspect of patients’ lives. With direct care, “I’m okay with praying for and with my patients.” She also said she will work with families to meet their spiritual and religious beliefs.

Individuals and families trying to discern whether direct care is right for them may visit the center’s website at for answers to questions. Prices also are posted. Schroeder can address additional questions.

The initial visit is virtual. “There are no masks and we get 45 minutes to an hour to get know each other. I have time to do a solid medical history.” Schroeder has developed a more extensive medical history and family history form. “I can see what might come up by going into extensive detail – including parent’s and siblings’ history.”

Following that appointment, the patient comes into the center for a physical check, which requires a mask. “And yes, you can have someone come with you.” Schroeder does not take patients receiving public aid. Others with or without insurance, including Medicare, can join.

Schroeder does not offer obstetric services, prescribe birth control or make abortion referrals.

Schroeder and DeLeon are talking with potential donors and sponsors to help those with financial difficulties to pay for their memberships.

For more information about Life & Family Medical, visit or call (563) 526-4536.

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Discerning the call to lead Life & Family Medical Clinic | Catholic Health Care Today


By Dr. Julie Schroeder

Call it a mid-life crisis if you will. Or maybe it’s just enough years of life experience that leads one to know that there are options in life and that those that seemed pretty scary before might be worth the risk now.

I always knew I would be a doctor. My mom tells stories of me watching medical shows at the age of 3. After high school, I looked for a college with a good pre-med program and landed at Val­paraiso Uni­versity in In­diana. I appre­ciated being able to integrate my faith with my science education. When it came time for medical school, I was fortunate to continue that integrated experience at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. Medicine is a science, but also an art. For me, and for many others, part of that art is rooted in our faith beliefs.

I entered medical school thinking I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. My first clinical rotation was surgery. Nope — didn’t like that. Next was pediatrics. Another no. (At this point my parents panicked a bit that I was going to decide “no” to the whole doctor thing.) Then I did my rotation in family medicine. This was it. Some seem to think family medicine is boring but I can tell you no two days are ever the same. The variety of ages, people and stories make me love being able to treat patients from birth to grave.

I have practiced family medicine in the Quad Cities for over 20 years with experience on both sides of the Mississippi River. I have been lucky enough to work for independent practices that have been willing to let me push the boundaries a bit to make my practice more relationship-based like it should be. However, the economic reality of health care today makes this a difficult thing to do and financially stay afloat. I have also been fortunate to work part-time, which has let me be active in my other roles that I cherish as a wife, mother and church member.

I found myself a few years ago wanting to make a change in my career. I prayed that God would let me know if that was the right thing to do then. I felt like I got a “no.” So, I stayed the course and continued to pray. About a year and a half ago, I felt the answer was changing. But what would I do next? I had ideas, but nothing firm. I really felt that God was challenging me to take a step out in faith. With no specific plan but the support of my family, I made the decision to leave my practice and see where God led me.

I attended a couple of conferences that brought new insight and knowledge but nothing definite. Then, out of the blue, I received an email last fall from a group trying to get a Christian-based, primary care clinic started in the Quad Cities. They had been looking for a provider for over a year. Now this was interesting! We talked, we prayed. I don’t remember praying for patience, but I must have, because God’s timetable for this project was about a year behind mine. I thought I could open this clinic by January 2020, then March … June … August. God willing, it will be next month, November 2020.

We all know God’s timing is the best timing; it is just usually easier to see that in hindsight. My time off allowed me to help my parents and in-laws through some medical crises. I got to take a three-week trip of a lifetime with my husband and our teenagers that would have been impossible this year. I was home for all the highlights and then lowlights of my daughter’s senior year. I got to spend so much extra time with my family through quarantine. All priceless.

Now it seems the hurdles that have slowed me down are falling in a hurry. I am so excited to be partnering with Life and Family Educational Trust to open the first direct primary care clinic in the Quad Cities. I will not only be allowed, but also encouraged to practice medicine — both the science and the art — from a place of love as modeled by Christ. I look forward to sharing more about Life & Family Medical Clinic in Bettendorf soon.

If you find yourself in the position to make a significant change in your life, first pray and then listen. Be willing to take the step in faith and then trust in God’s planning and timing.

(Dr. Julie Schroeder is the medical director of the Life & Family Medical Clinic, opening soon in Bettendorf.)

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Respect life, and one another



In his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“Gospel of Life”), published in 1995, Pope John Paul II cited the Second Vatican Council on the infamies opposed to life itself. Those infamies included “any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person … whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain….”

Inspired by the 25th anniversary of the pro-life encyclical, the U.S. bishops chose the theme ‘“Live the Gospel of Life ‘to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps’” for Respect Life Month, which began Oct. 1. “The encyclical passionately reaffirms the Church’s constant teaching on the value and sacredness of every human life and the Respect Life program resources reflect that life-affirming spirit,” says Bishop Thomas Zinkula.

The questions each of us need to ask ourselves are these: How am I demonstrating respect for every human life? What am I doing to encourage respect for every human life in my home, the public square, in my conversations with others and in my comments on social media?

Clearly, the “infamies” opposed to life itself in 1965 and 1995 persist in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a glaring light on the misery that is a consequence of failing to follow the Gospel. The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) identified several threats to human dignity that the Catholic Church is addressing:

• Abortion. More than two-thirds of abortions in Iowa are through medication rather than surgery, the ICC reports. According to Human Life Action, the abortion industry is working to make it easier to obtain the medication, including through the mail. The federal Support and Value Expectant (SAVE) Moms & Babies Act would impose restrictions to counteract those efforts. The bill did not make it to the Senate floor for debate. Please ask Congress ( to bring this issue to debate.

Continue to support a constitutional amendment to clarify that the Iowa State Constitution does not contain a fundamental right to an abortion.

• Temporary Protected Status. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 200,000 individuals living legally in the United States. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) say TPS countries such as El Salvador and Haiti cannot adequately handle the return of TPS recipients and their families, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Many of these family members are U.S. citizen children facing life without their parents and uncertain futures. Ask President Trump ( to rescind his decision, for the sake of families.

• The American Dream and Promise Act. This legislation would give DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, a path to citizenship. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives more than a year ago. Please ask U.S. Senators Charles Grassley ( and Joni Ernst ( to take up this legislation in the Senate.

• Immigrants as Essential Workers. Immigrants and refugees are among the many essential workers in our country. “Immigrants comprise 31% of U.S. agricultural employees … [and] they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation’s food supply chains,” said Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. He chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Migration. Join him and his fellow bishops in urging Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts. Email Congress to support legislation that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working, and contributing to our country. Participate in an action alert ( asking for relief actions on behalf of all immigrants. Read about the Iowa bishops’ support for DACA recipients and asylum seekers (

• Death Penalty. The Trump Administration has resumed federal executions. Persons convicted of crimes must be held accountable but also receive the opportunity for rehabilitation and restoration. Building on his predecessors’ opposition to the death penalty, Pope Francis approved a revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church stating that the death penalty is inadmissible. Ask President Trump and Attorney General William Barr ( to stop the executions.

• Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The church opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide and offers resources that address palliative care and hospice. Read the Vatican’s news release on this topic (

Finally, read the “Gospel of Life” ( for a solid foundation in church teaching on respect for life. Visit the website for resources to apply these teachings to today’s realities.

Pope John Paul II said, “Evangelium Vitae” was “meant to be a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability…” It also serves “as a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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40 Days for Life starts Sept. 23


IOWA CITY — Pro-life advocates are invited to participate in this year’s 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil Sept. 23-Nov. 1. The coronavirus pandemic prevents a kick-off event this year. Instead, Johnson County Right to Life is offering complimentary 40 Days for Life resources to provide encouragement and guidance for prayers and fasting.

These materials include a copy of Day 41 Magazine, a devotional guide, the book “The Beginning of the End of Abortion,” a wristband and button pin. Participants may sign up to receive these materials by visiting or by calling (319) 855-8475.

During the vigil, participants may pray in front of Emma Goldman Clinic or from home. Anyone participating in person must follow CDC guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. For more information go to .

“Our hope for this upcoming 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil is to bring together members of our community to pray, fast and peacefully advocate for an end to abortion and offer resources to women in need,” said Sheryl Schwager, executive director of Johnson County Right to Life.

40 Days for Life is a peaceful, prayerful and effective pro-life campaign that organizers say has helped save 17,226 known lives from abortion, led to the conversion of 206 abortion workers and seen 107 abortion centers close, with 20 closed in Iowa.

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