DES MOINES — It’s been 40 years since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, but Daniel McConchie isn’t giving up hope of overturning that decision.
He takes encouragement from the fact that after four decades of legalized abortion being the law of the land public opinion on the issue remains relatively unchanged, according to many polls.
The fact the American public remains divided on the issue of legalized abortion “goes to show this is not settled law,” he added.
“If we had significant majority on one side or another, then I think you could say that it was settled,” McConchie, vice president of Government Affairs for Americans United for Life, said Monday before speaking to the 10th annual pro-life rally at the Iowa Capitol.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad sounded a similar note in his remarks to a few hundred people in the Capitol rotunda.
“It’s sometimes a difficult and challenging journey to think 40 years have gone by and we still have the situation we have today,” Branstad said. “I have seen progress … the advance of medicine and children being able to survive outside the womb younger and younger and more people are getting that.”
The progress has been incremental, he said, like signing a parental notification law in 1996 and his more recent appointment of his pastor, Msgr. Frank Bognanno, to the Iowa Board of Medicine.
McConchie went so far as to say he sees reason for optimism: The passage of parental notification laws and others that limit the availability of abortions; the election of pro-life lawmakers in 2010; and the support of the pro-life movement among young people.
“You never give up on an issue of moral concern,” McConchie said.
Earlier in the day, Branstad seemed doubtful pro-life supporters will be able to change any laws this year.
“Considering the make-up of the General Assembly, I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” he said.
Given Democrats control of the Senate, nothing will happen, said Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, lead sponsor of House File 173, a bill to end what has become known as telemed or webcam abortions where the physician and the woman seeking an abortion are linked via video teleconference.
The bill would require “medical abortions” be performed in a hospital or clinic the capacity to provide surgical intervention in cases resulting in an incomplete abortion or severe bleeding.
Such complications are rare, according to a study by Ibis Reproductive Health of telemed abortions in Iowa.
Windschitl is concerned about the cases where there are complications. Data is lacking, he said, but he’s seen reports of at least eight deaths — none in Iowa — as a result of telemed abortions.
McConchie and Windschitl say al lthey want is an up-or-down vote on the bill.
“I’m not sure what the (Iowa) Senate is afraid of going on record about. Truly, if they think this is either a good bill or a bad bill they should at least allow a vote on it and let members take a stand and defend why it is.”
That probably won’t happen, according to Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs. The past two years, he said, Republicans and pro-life Democrats tried to limit late-term abortions.
“Now they want to take away another opportunity for women who seek abortions,” Gronstal said.
Gronstal said it’s not likely the bill would win approval in the Senate “and if it did, it’s unlikely I would bring it up on the floor,” he said.