The Catholic bishops of Iowa have released a statement reviewing the 2017 Iowa legislative session.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is now serving as governor following the resignation of Gov. Terry Branstad. In her inaugural address, she mentioned tax reform, energy, education and workforce issues as priorities. Branstad has been confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to China.

ICC staff was pleased to be present when Gov. Branstad signed Senate File 471 on May 5. The bill prohibits abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization with exceptions to save the life of the mother or for a serious physical health emergency. The ICC has been working on similar legislation since 2011 and it is the first limitation on abortion passed in Iowa for many years. You can check out a photo of the bill-signing on our website.

The bill also included a three-day waiting period before an abortion. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood received a court order blocking the waiting period while a trial court will decide the matter. The 20-week ban itself is in place.

During the past session, the ICC fought efforts to restore the death penalty in Iowa. We are continuing our long-time collaboration with the Iowans Against the Death Penalty group. We also encourage you to read and sign the National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty.

BISHOPS SPEAK OUT ON BUDGET, HEALTH CARE, ABORTION

Six chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a letter regarding President Donald J. Trump’s budget plan. That proposed budget calls for a sharp increase in military spending while making significant cuts across much of the rest of government, including the planned elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs that assist the poor and vulnerable.

In letters to both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate sent May 19, the bishops reaffirmed the federal budget as a moral document containing profound implications for the common good of our nation and world. The letter states that the “budget requires difficult decisions that ought to be guided by moral criteria that protect human life and dignity, give central importance to ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25), and promote the welfare of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity.”

Here’s the full text of the letter.

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to strip out the harmful provisions of the bill when the chamber takes it up for consideration.

“Even with efforts to improve the bill before passage, the American Health Care Act still contains major defects, particularly regarding changes to Medicaid that risk coverage and affordability for millions; it is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who will be most severely impacted were not heeded,” said Bishop Dewane. “The AHCA does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards. But still, vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act.”

Since discussions about repealing the Affordable Care Act began, the U.S. Bishops have repeatedly called for Congress to honor key moral principles in health care reform: access for all people to comprehensive, quality health care that is truly affordable, including extra consideration for pre-existing conditions; respect for life by preventing the use of federal funds for abortion or to purchase health care plans that cover it; and conscience protections.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the announcement by the Democratic National Committee’s chair pledging support only for pro-abortion candidates. Calling the pledge “very disturbing,” Cardinal Dolan urged party members to “challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”

AND FINALLY,

We extend our condolences to the family of Rep. Greg Forristall (R-Macedonia), who died on May 10. He was vice-chair of the House Education Committee. A special election is set for June 27.