SHELDON—State Sen. Randy Feenstra let his constituents know the fight to end abortion in Iowa is not over.
After being prompted by an attendee, the Republican legislator from Hull informed a group of about 20 people at the Sheldon Pizza Ranch on Friday he was working on a new bill that would define personhood.
This bill is a direct response to a judge’s ruling that Iowa’s “Heartbeat Bill,” which introduced the strictest abortion laws in the country, was unconstitutional.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who signed the bill last year, announced she would not be appealing the ruling.
“What happened last year is we defined what a heartbeat was — that life starts at a heartbeat and that got ruled unconstitutional,” Feenstra said. “I proposed a bill this year — if we can’t define when life starts, can we define what a person is?
“So the bill I proposed is personhood, meaning that scientifically we know when a person is developed — it starts literally starts at conception you have a person. No doctor is going to say differently, so I just want to say in our code that a person is defined when life starts.”
By implementing this measure, Feenstra said someone would not be able to kill a person since that act already is illegal.
“It’s sort of an end around what’s happening with abortion,” Feenstra said. “It just makes me sick to hear what’s happening in New York and all these other things — infanticide — I can’t even imagine our society thinking down these paths, but just shows you what we think of life. It’s not good, very scary.”
His personhood bill made it out subcommittee and will move on to committee.
Feenstra also elaborated on a bill that would eliminate the requirement for schools to have nurses and librarians.
This measure has made headlines across the state, but Feenstra downplayed it saying it’ is just a way to give districts more local control and save money.
“A lot of smaller schools, right now, they have nurses and librarians — which is great — but we’re allowing schools to say can you use other means or is there somebody else in school that can do things that a nurse can do but not necessarily requiring a nurse to be on staff or requiring, per se, a librarian to be on staff,” Feenstra said.
“We’re not saying that they have to be eliminated, we’re just saying school boards, you have the ability to decide how you spend your money and if you specifically want a nurse or a librarian that is up to you, each school district.”
Feenstra noted smaller districts are having budget problems and this could give them more financial latitude.
Altogether, Feenstra spent about an hour with constituents, even posing for photos with a few after he was speaking.
However, throughout the event, he did not addressed his 2020 primary challenge of longtime U.S. Rep. Steve King until asked about it by Mark Brown of Sheldon.
“Randy, can you comment anything on that other little project you got going on?” Brown asked.
Feenstra started his answer by referring to an earlier statement he made about how they manage to effective bipartisan legislators in Des Moines and how the environment is different in Washington, D.C.
“It is very polarizing in D.C.,” Feenstra said. “I don’t want to dwell on it, but I’ve been in government for 10 years and how you get things done is you have to effective. You have to figure out ways to move policy.
“So we can talk about a lot of great policy, right, we can talk about the things that we want to get done, but if you don’t have the capability to get things done, then you are just talking — you are just saying things,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve found at the state level and same thing at the federal level: Who are your colleagues? Who can you work with? How do you maneuver yourself to where you can be effective and have a seat at the table to either stop or promote different things.”
Feenstra noted in Congress he would be about effective legislation.
“That’s what I want to bring to D.C. and to the congressional office in the 4th District,” he said. “We’re number one in agriculture in the world in the 4th District; we need to have a voice, we need to have somebody at the table.”