Opinion: Iowa Wages War On Women’s Autonomy

While Americans sit with baited breath awaiting the next batch of “Tweets” from the Trump, his zealot supporters in the religious right are unleashing some serious Catholic patriarchal domination on women. Either Americans have completely succumbed to living in a theocracy and accept that adult women are destined to be treated like livestock, something not out of the realm of possibility, or the media could not care less that religious Republicans are on a tear to put women in the place the religious right thinks they belong: under church authority.

Over the past week, there were two separate atrocities in Iowa that inform women in the state are on the verge of losing what few rights as American citizens they have remaining. One of the horrors, and it has the possibility of being a deadly horror, is the brainchild of a religious Republican representative who believes it is important to force women to carry a dead fetus to term. To demonstrate the level of the cruelty inherent in the religious right, it is noteworthy that the Republican is a woman and proud to be leading the Iowa pro-life movement to subjugate other Iowa women to the whims and absurd ideology of the Catholic pro-life, personhood movement.

The other travesty is contained in the same piece of religious legislation lovingly named the “feticide” bill. And although it is part of the personhood bill forcing women to carry a dead fetus to term, it unconstitutionally grants an unmarried adult woman’s parents authority to prevent her from terminating a pregnancy. The Iowa “personhood/feticide bill” might at one time faced certain rejection by the Supreme Court, but Iowa’s religious Republicans are confident that Trump’s religious Justice Department leader and what looks to be a theocratic Supreme Court will rule that adult women deserve fewer rights than a zygote, embryo, or a fetus. A state House panel sent a bill, SF 471, to the full committee that criminalizes abortions that occur 20 weeks after the moment of conception; a moment determined by the Catholic personhood movement. There are no provisions or exceptions for cases of rape or incest, what personhood advocates and most Republicans claim is part of god’s plan to populate the Earth.

As Iowa Democrats noted, SF 471 also gives parents the legal right to prevent their unmarried adult daughters from having an abortion and empowers them to punish doctors treating adult women.

The wording of the religious legislation states, “injunctive relief to prevent a physician from performing abortions” may be obtained “by a parent or guardian of the woman if the woman is less than eighteen years of age or unmarried at the time the abortion.” Of course, the theocratic edict doesn’t address a situation where the adult woman’s parents are unavailable, but it is likely they will include a provision in the final version giving some personhood advocate “injunction to prevent a physician from performing a legal medical procedure on an adult woman.

During what was supposed to be a debate on the merits of allowing the personhood advocates to have purview over women’s autonomy, one of SF 471s “managers” let slip that she condones, and the her “edict” will force a woman, married or not, to carry a dead fetus (miscarriage) to term. A Democrat on the committee posed a question to Rep. Shannon Lundgren (RR) and her reply informed that requiring women to continue such a “miscarriage” pregnancy is just fine by her; something about pro-life and personhood.

Lundgren’s answer also revealed that she either doesn’t comprehend the “health and safety ramifications” of her legislation or more likely that she perfectly understands and is proceeding with religious fervor. Because god.

A Democrat on the committee, Rep. John Forbes is a pharmacist and the past president of the Iowa Pharmacy Association and noted to Lundgren that he has a pregnant daughter. He posed a question to Lundgren regarding how the theocratic legislation might affect her, and her life. Mr. Forbes said:

Worst case scenario, she talks to her doctor next Wednesday and her doctor tells her, we don’t see a heartbeat anymore in this child. Under this legislation, she would have to carry that baby until her life became endangered? Is that good medicine?”

Without missing a beat Lundgren responded that according to how and why she wrote the legislation, that yes, Mr. Forbes’ daughter would be forced to carry the rotting fetus to term if it didn’t kill her first. Lundgren said, out loud no less;

Rep. Forbes, this bill wasn’t written for [sic] the intent to protect or govern, on the side of the woman. It was written to save babies’ lives. I would concur that yes, she would have to carry that baby.”

Lundgren is an ignorant sot; ignorant of her own bible and ignorant of the most basic fundamentals of human biology. First, a fetus, an embryo, or zygote is not, never has been, and never will be considered “a baby” regardless what the Catholic personhood movement says. A “baby” is a human infant that has exited the womb. Furthermore, according to Lundgren’s personal copy of the Christian bible, even her almighty god’s immutable utterance does not consider a fetusa living being” until it is out of the woman’s womb and breathes air under its own power. That is not this author’s opinion, it is the unerring words of the evangelicals’ biblical god; something the Catholic personhood movement refuses to acknowledge.

What should be most revealing, and distressing to women everywhere and the men who care about them was Lundgren’s defense of such an extreme religious policy and her own admission that she has no interest in, and her edict wasn’t written with the intent of, “protecting women;” it was written to protect zygotes, embryos and fetuses at the expense of women’s lives and their autonomy.

The personhood movement and religious Republicans have lusted to take extreme measures to put women under the auspices of the religious right, but until now there was a constitutional firewall against “legislation establishing religion;” especially when it involves depriving Americans of their civil rights. Now with a facilitator in the White House, a religious maniac as vice president, and an evangelical attorney general who claims the Separation Clauses in the Constitution are “unconstitutional,” the personhood advocates are emboldened to do what their bizarre interpretation of the Christian religion commands; subjugate women to religious men.

If any American thinks for one second that this abomination in Iowa will not be enacted at the federal level, they are deluded because this is Trump’s America now and his administration will go to any lengths to sate the religious right’s thirst for power over the entire nation, starting with women.


Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion. Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn't look good. Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.

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