This fall the Iowa Catholic Conference has been working with legislators and others on several issues of concern identified by the bishops.
A top priority is encouraging the Legislature to pass a “Protect Life” amendment to Iowa’s Constitution which would allow the people of Iowa to decide how to regulate abortion. In June 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a law providing for a three-day reflection period before an abortion. In the same decision, the Court found a fundamental right to abortion in the state Constitution. We believe almost no existing or future regulation of abortion can survive a court challenge.
We recognize that each person is created in the image and likeness of God. This is why abortion is such an important issue. We can help pregnant women, fathers and families in distress without recourse to the violence of abortion.
ICC staff has been meeting with parish pro-life contacts to prepare for legislative action early next year. For more information on the amendment proposal, go to our website at https://votervoice.net/ICC/Petitions/1942/Respond. You can also sign our petition at the same place asking the Legislature to take action. Once the Legislature passes the amendment in two separate sessions it will go to a vote of the people of Iowa.
We are also working to enhance the School Tuition Organization tax credit program which helps raise money for students to attend Catholic and other nonpublic schools.
An Iowa Catholic school student, Gabby Chiodo, was highlighted by the school choice group, American Federation for Children (AFC). You can see her story here: https://www.federationforchildren.org/voices-archive/gabby-chiodo/.
Gabby spoke to some legislators at a local training in November sponsored by AFC and was a great spokesperson for how the STO program supported her family.
Here in Iowa, the ICC continues to support positive legislation that would help refugees and immigrants – such as driver’s licenses for those who can pass the test but don’t have papers – and opposes legislation that simply provides for more state and local enforcement of federal immigration law.
ICC staff has also been planning with advocacy groups to advance other pieces of legislation, including:
Providing voting rights to those who have been convicted of felonies and have completed their sentence
Fighting human trafficking
Enabling Gun Violence Restraining Orders
The USCCB’s website has several other action alerts with sample messages to members of Congress at https://votervoice.net/USCCB/home. The alerts address issues such as religious liberty, climate change, abortion, and a nuclear arms treaty.
BISHOPS APPLAUD PASSAGE OF FARM WORKFORCE MODERNIZATION ACT
In Washington, D.C., two bishops who chair committees for the USCCB applauded the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5038) by the U.S. House.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, spoke in support of this legislation.
The bill would improve conditions for immigrant farmworkers and their families as well as ensure the stability of the U.S. agricultural industry. It would also offer earned permanent residency for certain farmworkers. The bill is not perfect – a wage freeze and E-Verify are included in the measure.
IOWAN TO BE EXECUTED?
Recently the U.S. Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to allow the resumption of federal executions after a 16-year hiatus. An injunction is in place which prohibits the administration from carrying out the executions but litigation will continue. The executions would take place in Terre Haute, Indiana under the auspices of the federal government.
An Iowan is set to be executed due to multiple murders he committed in Iowa during the 1990’s. We think he would be the first Iowan to be executed in more than 55 years since the state itself no longer has the death penalty.
Pope Francis has approved a change in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, according to which “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
We pray you have a blessed conclusion to your Advent. Early next month we’ll send you our annual preview of the legislative session.