Knoxville — House File 138, the "personhood" bill was filed early this legislative session. As the House draws nearer to its final funnel, Rep. Greg Heartsill believes his colleagues need to hear from pro-life supporters to ensure that the bill moves forward.
To inspire these groups, Heartsill has written a letter, asking them to be more proactive in their support of the bill. The bill, drafted by Rep. Tom Shaw, and sponsored by Heartsill, defines life as beginning at conception.
The US Supreme Court, when ruling on Roe vs. Wade, indicated that abortions could be stopped at the state level, if states adopt that personhood begins at conception.
Heartsill told the Journal-Express this morning that he did not write the letter for the sake of stirring controversy. He just believes that if pro-lifers want to stand up for the idea that life begins at conception, more action needs to be taken to convince House leadership to keep the bill alive.
The text of Heartsill's letter to pro-life groups is pasted below.
March 4, 2013
Dear Pro-Life Friends,
Every once in a while it becomes necessary for a movement to take a step back and ask itself some very important and fundamental questions. Questions like “What is our objective?” and “What are we doing to meet that objective?”
The pro-life movement is at such a point. After 40 years and 55 million disposed lives, it is insane for us to keep insisting on doing the same, incremental approach over and over again, and yet expect different results.
Ask any self-proclaimed pro-life activist or politician, “When does life begin?” They will answer, with rare exception, “At conception.”
Life begins at conception. Together, we all profess this truth. But professing belief in a truth and taking action on that truth are two entirely different things.
Since 1973, pro-life organizations have been aggressively trying to circumvent the egregious U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, all the while hoping to someday stack the court with pro-life justices that would lead to its eventual overturn. Despite all our efforts since then, this strategy has proved to have very little effect on ending abortion.
Perhaps instead of nibbling around the edges of Roe, we should have attacked it head on by using its own words against it. In his assenting opinion, Justice Henry Blackmun gives us the very antidote to his own decision: “If the state determines that a fetus is a person, then of course all protections of the 14th Amendment apply.”
Here are the keys to victory over Roe: If a state establishes personhood, then the justification and rationale for abortion collapses.
Last month, my good friend and fellow legislator, Representative Tom Shaw, introduced a bill (House File 138) that would define personhood in the State of Iowa as beginning at the moment of conception.
This bill states nothing more than what we in the pro-life community have been saying for the past 4 decades, what we have known biblically for millennia, and what modern science has been able to corroborate through the advances of technology: Life begins at conception.
As someone who firmly believes that life begins at conception, and as a newly minted legislator in the Iowa House of Representatives, I was proud to be the very first co-sponsor of this bill. I was also very pleased when seven other colleagues co-sponsored this bill as well.
Now that we have legislation in the Iowa House of Representatives that will codify the very truth that we claim we believe, something very odd and very noticeable is missing from the picture: Support from several prominent pro-life, pro-family groups in Iowa. Why?
This is what we believe as pro-lifers, right? Life begins at conception, right? We want to see an end to the slaughter of innocent life, right? Then why do some pro-life organizations sit silent?
I happen to know that House File 138 hasn’t slipped by unnoticed given the volume of emails I’ve received as a co-sponsor of the bill.
I’ve been told that one of the absent pro-life groups is concerned about the “messaging” of the bill. Really? The message of House File 138 is that life begins at conception and that the life of the child in the womb should be afforded all the rights, privileges, and equal protection that every other life is afforded under our country’s founding documents.
Are we really afraid of that message? Or are we afraid of the narrative used by the abortion industry that characterizes us falsely? We say that we believe in life at conception. Why not act upon it? Why not make a public stand for it?
As the legislative “funnel” deadline draws near, this is not a time for timidity and seclusion. For those pro-life organizations that have chosen to sit on the sidelines, your absence is more noticeable than your presence. Your silence speaks volumes.
To see the list of organizations that have registered their declaration on House File 138, check out the following web link:
Please go to this link to see if your pro-life organization has weighed in on House File 138. If they haven’t, then maybe they need to hear from you. You should know what their justification is for being silent on a bill that defines life as beginning at conception.
We should not expect God to bless our efforts in this battle if we are unwilling to have the courage to stand on our convictions, and if we are unwilling to back up our words with action.
Either you believe that life begins at conception or you don’t. If you don’t believe it, then have the courage to admit it. But if you are out there boldly proclaiming it, then stand by it. Don’t waver. Lead the charge (or at least come along when the charge is being led by others).
I submit to you that if you are not willing to defend life beginning at conception, then you really don’t believe in it.
Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Choose this day where you will stand on recognizing personhood for the unborn. I have staked out my position. How about you?
Representative Greg Heartsill (R-Columbia)
Iowa House District 28