Dignity and respect for human life is all of our concern. I will ensure that women have what they need to make the best decisions for themselves, the human beings potentially developing within them, and their families. Jurisdiction over one’s own being is an inalienable human right. I am dedicated to defending all basic human and constitutional amendment rights. We can balance the right to bear arms with laws to promote public safety- for freedom from threats of violence and tragic loss of life.
I am no fan of labels. Identifying as “pro-life” should likely prompt us to regard lives affected by tragedy, warfare, or poverty as equally worthy of our focus and protection. “Pro-choice” considerations should take into account how access to opportunities and resources can support or impede individuals in determining the best options for themselves and their families. Regardless of your personal beliefs, or your political party affiliation- I sincerely want to hear and acknowledge your concerns so that we may effectively substantiate and address them together.
Every woman must have proprietary rights and jurisdiction over her own being, and we must acknowledge that the quality of life of the human being that develops within her is ultimately her responsibility. Even as we seek to assert our personal beliefs about life, we still have to acknowledge that with the onset of pregnancy, women still maintain the inalienable right to choose- whether or not to continue such a profound daily personal investment. Anything a woman sustains within her- with each and every breath, each and every moment of physical, mental and emotional energy- for all ethical and legal purposes, IT IS HER. At the point where the developing human being can potentially be sustained apart from the mother, then critical life and death healthcare decisions must be made in the best interest of both mother and baby. She and her loved ones are in the best position to make those decisions with the support of healthcare professionals.
The imposition of our will or religious notions upon the lives of others is reckless- Imposing our will upon another from our own limited vantage point for critical life and death decisions constitutes recklessness with other people’s lives. Human development is a critical time that will forever impact life after birth, so why on earth would we ever strive to limit thoughtful, well-informed decisions at any point during its course?
Circumstances change – We cannot presume to always be able to make the critical decision of whether or not to sustain a pregnancy throughout its course based only upon the circumstances at the time of conception. In healthcare we respond to changing health conditions throughout people’s lives and empower them with information and treatment choices to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. It is wrong to deny the fact that the health and well-being of mother and baby are inextricably linked until birth.
The very difficult and complicated healthcare decisions that are made in late-term abortions may occur much less often than you have been told by activist groups. (Get a better understanding of state and national abortion statistics: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm). Dignity and respect for life is maintained in these circumstances as with most other critical healthcare events in life- with detailed documentation and healthcare provider accountability.
My life-affirming approach to this issue:
Justice in life – We grant the responsibility of life-and-death decision-making to individuals and institutions in society over vast jurisdictions; law enforcement in our communities and military leaders in our world. Justice in life means preserving a woman’s inalienable right to jurisdiction over her own being. She is often primarily responsible for the potential well-being of her family. It is truly shocking to see any political party advocate so much government overreach into these profoundly personal issues where decision-making is already in perfectly capable hands. Quality of Life- From the perspective of a mother, a healthcare provider, and a justice-focused economist- I will work to preserve and pass legislation that empowers you to make the important decisions that impact your daily lives most. Such legislation includes protections for deliberate, thoughtful decisions made before and during pregnancy that forever impact quality of life for you and your children. (Learn more about some horribly-misguided recent regulations that will likely result in more unplanned pregnancies and health hardships: https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/ask-kff-alina-salganicoff-answers-3-questions-on-final-title-x-regulations-for-family-planning-clinics/)
Did you know that federal funding restrictions have been renewed annually since the 1970s so that low income women (in some states more than others) have very limited access to abortion services? Understand the Hyde Amendment- which blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortion outside of a few exceptions: https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/perspective/the-hyde-amendment-and-coverage-for-abortion-services/
(Please also see the Economics tab as you consider what economic justice should look like.)
From what I have gathered, I believe the vast majority of Iowans share a similar view on this issue. As your senator I will strive to advance proposals on issues that most Iowans support. A senator’s role is not to impose political party positions or religious notions upon her constituents. I would not have run for office if I did not sincerely believe that most Iowans agree that we cannot compromise on individual rights for women.
I am personally very familiar with the traditional anti-choice perspective: My parents were raised as Catholics in Milwaukee schools, and later they transitioned to non-denominational Christian, Evangelical-style religious practice when I was a teenager. Today I am finding that many Catholics and Evangelicals support a woman’s right to self-determination and access to all family planning choices. But from my perspective as a young child, no two people were more concerned about preventing abortions than my parents. They had 7 of their own children within 9 ½ years. My mother volunteered for an organization called “Birthright” in the 1970’s- which generally sought to persuade women to maintain pregnancies. So when I was a young child my mother offered our crowded home as refuge for several women throughout the course of their pregnancy. Later my family took in multiple foster children- sometimes for years at a time. Such was my mother’s passion that she was willing to personally invest whatever she could to influence the decision to carry a pregnancy to term- no matter what. Few anti-choice advocates would offer such a personal sacrifice today- though it remains legal and generally acceptable to offer your support to women and encourage them to make the sort of decisions you advocate.
However, it is a detrimental waste of time to try to turn back the clock on individual rights. Women are no longer 2nd class citizens in our country and realistically I believe we know as Americans that ultimately such human-rights transgressions will not stand. In the meantime our failure to defend these rights only perpetuates hardship and human suffering- particularly for the most vulnerable women, children and families who struggle most to manage difficult circumstances. Join me in striving to empower others to make the most thoughtful, deliberate and responsible decisions for themselves and their families. As we enable others to achieve their own ideal of self-fulfillment, they in turn will have more to contribute to their communities.
Responsible Gun Ownership and Public Safety
I worked as an RN in busy emergency departments for over 17 years and have plenty of first-hand experience in dealing with the immediate aftermath of gunshot wounds. When I consider the variety of circumstances: accidental shootings, intended and unintended street-violence victims, crimes, and domestic violence- it is clear that no single piece of legislation would have prevented them all. I am concerned about the proliferation of careless gun ownership and misuse. But I respect people’s choice to own them and use them responsibly in keeping with regulations that limit threats to public safety. A few years ago I went shooting with a great young mans who owns a variety of fire arms (I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to experience something that might make me less likely to speak from a position of ignorance). He and my son had invited me to the firing range upon the Iowa DNRs public suggestion to “take your mom shooting for Mother’s Day” (his mom came along as well). I shot a variety of fire arms that day, learned about gun safety, and feel this was a valuable life experience. Still- flashbacks from my ER experiences only amplified the ominous sense of the explosive power I held in my hands. So I truly sense the urgency to promote public safety as much as possible. The great independent Senator- Angus King of Maine (and others) have pointed out that the vast majority of gun crimes are committed with hand guns and much of the regulations proposed to attack the problem will not impact gun use for most rural Iowans. I agree with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan who pointed out that the presence of mental health professionals in public schools could play an important role in addressing the issue of gun violence (among other social issues) in that setting more effectively. Gun dealers and shooting ranges can become a greater part of the solution. An advertisement in my area for a newer gun range’s motto is “where responsibility and skill meet” and the safety instruction they provide is a valuable public resource.
In the past year or two my job has required me to review hospital medical records in a neighboring state where there are regularly countless young shooting victims of street violence. Just reading their stories is a traumatic, heartbreaking experience- much less understanding that many of these young survivors will struggle with severe physical and mental disabilities for the rest of their lives. Legislative and public policy solutions are taking shape and they need momentum to attack this critical challenge from all sides- economic incentives, community engagement with law enforcement, and gun licensing and tracking considerations among them. For a start, I agree with Senator Angus King’s positions: expanding background checks to most firearm transactions, limiting the size of magazines, and making purchasing a gun for someone not allowed to have one a federal crime. The effectiveness of proposed “red-flag” laws depends upon the willingness of local law enforcement to implement them- so they may be most effective if legislated on the state level with federal funding incentives for monitoring and reporting purposes.
The young man I mentioned earlier, likely among the most knowledgeable and responsible gun owners around, is now my campaign treasurer. He has some thoughtful ideas for proposals that I plan to have him share on our website in more detail in the coming months. We must foster his generation’s participation in advancing the most effective solutions.