Iowa Senate Committee Approves Bill on Defining When Life Begins

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  An Iowa Senate subcommittee held a hearing on Monday defining conception as when a life begins.

The room was packed with dozens of pro-life supporters as well as some who opposed the law.

Rebecca Keissling, an attorney who also was almost aborted by her mother after a rape in 1969, was one of the people in attendance.

"She actually went to two illegal back alley abortions and I was almost aborted, but she backed out for fear for her own safety because it was illegal, like most women did,” said Keissling. “And when we met, she was very happy to meet me when I was 19 years old, but when I asked her, she told me if abortion had been legal she would have aborted me.”

Planned Parenthood of Iowa opposed the bill as a step to outlawing abortion in the state.

“This bill defines abortion. It would, or could, outlaw most or all abortions in this state,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, of Planned Parenthood of Iowa. “This proposed bill could trigger government investigations into women and their medical providers who experience a miscarriage.”

“I became very depressed, I started drinking, I started doing drugs, I became very promiscuous. And that lifestyle let me to two more abortions and a whirlwind life that went out of control,” said Luana Stoltenberg, who had three abortions in her life. “I represent women whose lives have spun out of control because of this choice that they were not told completely about.”

“It's actually Exodus chapter 21 verse 22. In that verse, a pregnant woman is injured--it's exactly the manslaughter charge that you were talking about--a pregnant woman is injured, the pregnancy has ended, but in the Jewish tradition, the belief is that the pregnancy is essentially part of the mother," said Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Des Moines.

Democratic Senator Janet Petersen of Des Moines read a letter from the University of Iowa Medical School saying that preventing abortions in Iowa would lead to loss of medical school accreditation.

The bill was passed onto committee for further debate.