Whenever there is a shift in power, it comes to this - the abortion issue.
It is the ultimate divisive factor, the societal line of scrimmage of our age, a political Mason-Dixon line that few dare to cross.
Conservatives are pro-life, and liberals pro-choice in the world of politics, and never the twain shall meet. It’s all one way, or all the other, no room for compromise or even polite discussion.
In the real world in which real people live and struggle and search their souls over rights and wrongs, I’m not so sure that it is so cut and dried.
Perhaps there is a quiet yet considerable number of people who both wish more unborn children had an opportunity at life, and don’t feel comfortable dictating to women what they can do with their bodies.
It’s no surprise that the Republican legislators would try to turn the policy tide with their numbers advantage this session, any more than it would be for Democrats to try to do the same in the future if they have the opportunity. But the issue deserves some lasting sense of direction and some real care for the girls and women who must face the decision.
The Iowa House passed a measure outlawing abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, as other GOP-controlled states have done. Current policy allows procedures at up two two trimeters, or 27 weeks max.
Pro-lifers say that 20 weeks is the stage in which an unborn fetus can feel pain.
The real motivation for the party, admittedly, is to take such a “baby step” as one proponent called the bill, toward making abortion entirely unavailable.
The bill also would require doctors to offer a woman more details about an ultrasound, including an option to hear the heartbeat of the fetus, unabashed pressure to cause them to change their minds.
Opinions will be mixed about these efforts, but the experiences of other states would indicate that they would stand up to legal challenge.
One element of the bill, I think, both sides should welcome.
It is to implement a 72-hour waiting period before the patient can proceed with an abortion.
Given the life and death nature of this decision, and the momentous impact it will have on the patient’s own life, a waiting period is appropriate, which is why we have such a period for gun purhases.
It should not be a means to bully a girl or woman to opt out of an abortion, which is their legal and civil right in this country, or even to influence their decsions.
A waiting period does give a chance for reflection, however, perhaps a chance to speak with someone they trust. It ensures that the decision will not be made on impulse.
It will make situations somewhat
more difficult for patients, we know, particularly those from rural areas who must travel for medical services. We apologize for this, but the logistical complications may be a small price to pay compared to possible regret.
How far the Republicans can push in the next few years on this issue, or whether more restrictive policies will stick after future years’ elections and court appointments, remains to be seen.
Iowans tend to the conservative on social issues, but they do also on economics, and the state will bear a multi-million-dollar per year cost for its efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood as family planning program provider, and cost will apparently come straight out of the state Health and Human Services budget. Are those who wave signs to defund Planned Parenthood also committed enough to pay more taxes, and trusting enough to allow politics to run family planning in our state? We shall see.
Is making abortion very hard to legally obtain the ultimate answer?
Instead of trying so hard to take away women’s choice, maybe we should be working to make sure they have the information they need to make the best choice for them. And that includes the fact that there is another choice besides the one to abort a child or not.
Call it pro-adoption.
Someone who is not willing or able to raise a child can give it up to a loving home - many Iowans wait in line for years for a chance to bring a child into their lives. The birth mother can choose to guide the process, or be totally removed from it - or even to drop a child off in a basket to a safe place like a hospital where she or he will be cared for, no questions asked.
Treating children like overdue library books isn’t ideal, of course, but they do get a chance at life.
Instead of making abortion harder to get, perhaps we should be working on how to make choosing to keep a child easier.
Information on how to find help and services, how to tell parents or a boyfriend that you’re pregnant.
Maybe instead of political debate, we could stress education, and preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
No one really wants to see more children’s lives lost before they start, and no one should really want to dictate women’s lives to them. It is a woman’s choice, not a legislator’s.
I will say only one thing. I have talked to a lot of parents in my life - a whole lot - and never, not once, have I ever met one who wished their child didn’t exist. That is something to think about too when a difficult decision must be made.