A bill introduced by nine Republican state lawmakers in Iowa on Wednesday would define abortion as “murder,” sending doctors and raped women who terminate pregnancies to jail.
State Rep. Tom Shaw says that he authored House File 138 to protect human life, whether “you’re a zygote, an infant, a teenager or an adult.”
The bill defines a “person” as “an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.”
“Murder includes killing another person through any means that terminates the life of the other person including but not limited to the use of abortion-inducing drugs,” the measure states without making any exceptions for rape or incest.
Republican state Rep. Rob Bacon, who is co-sponsoring the bill, told the Ames Tribune that he wanted to “protect the life of the unborn” because “[t]here’s still some of us that believe life begins at conception.”
During a Wednesday interview with Denver Bible Church pastor Bob Enyart, Shaw explained that defining a fertilized egg as a “person” in Iowa’s murder statute “just simplifies everything.”
“So when anyone has any questions towards us — the war on women, are you doing this, are you doing that? — no, it’s a simple response,” he insisted. “We are only defining who a person is.”
“There was a lot of concern with former bills about who would be charged, what would they be charged with… This puts it in the hands of county attorneys, just like any other murder investigation. A person is a person.”
According to Democratic state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, the new definition of murder would mean that women were jailed if they had an abortion after being raped or to save their own lives.
“We’re talking about the victim of rape would go to prison along with her rapist,” she told the Tribune. “It’s very hard to understand the feeling behind it. It’s a health care issue, I mean, sometimes in order to save someone’s life a woman could possibly need an abortion. When we talk about being pro-life, my new question is ‘whose life?’”
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President Jill June called the effort to restrict abortion rights “the most extreme yet.”
“This bill would imprison a woman and her doctor for attempting an abortion,” June said in a statement on Wednesday. “A victim of rape or incest would be forced to carry a pregnancy or be put in jail, just like her assailant. Extremists pushing this bill are blinded by their ideology to eliminate abortion, and do not realize how this bill could hurt women and families in our state.”
Even if Shaw’s bill makes it out of committee, it would have virtually no chance to pass in Iowa’s Democratically-controlled Senate.
Listen to this audio from Bob Enyart Live, broadcast Feb. 6, 2013.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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