The bill was intended to protect pregnant jail inmates.
Instead, an Iowa state senator hopes to turn it into yet an utterly useless vote on abortion.
Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo, on Tuesday took aim at a bill restricting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. The measure was intended to give local police some leeway when transporting or handling peaceful, pregnant inmates. Disruptive, pregnant inmates still could be shackled if their behavior warrants it.
Sorenson told reporters he felt compelled to bring up abortion after hearing from one county deputy who told him she’d been “forced” — Sorenson’s words — to transport a pregnant inmate to a clinic and witness an abortion. He plans to introduce an amendment restricting the use of tax dollars on inmate abortions and protecting any deputy from being forced to transport an inmate for an abortion.
Sorenson intends to gum up this unbelievably busy legislative session by forcing an abortion debate where none is needed.
Sorenson pledged to keep his source anonymous. So no one else has an inkling if this claim is remotely true or an issue anywhere else in Iowa.
Iowa Department of Corrections representative Fred Scaletta has no data from county jails, but reports zero requests from pregnant state prison inmates for abortions.
“If there would be a medical need to terminate the pregnancy, the cost as with all medical procedures would be covered by indigent fund,” he said in an email statement. “DOC would not authorize or refer an abortion unless there was a life-threatening or serious medical threat to the mother.”
So with no evidence of a problem, and just one anonymous source, Sorenson is plowing ahead with an amendment that won’t improve schools, lower taxes, trim spending or accomplish any of the major goals of his party or governor.
In fact, he can provide no evidence it will prevent even one abortion.
What it will do is permit sworn police officers to pick and choose assignments based on their personal beliefs and preferences.
What’s Sorenson’s next step? Allow public works crews to decline fixing or clearing roads that might carry these mythical pregnant inmates to their abortions? How about prohibiting any state medical training that might be used for an abortion?
Iowa’s law enforcement officers are trained and paid to uphold state law, not cast judgment on their clients.
Since he has provided no evidence of a problem, Sorenson’s ploy reveals only one motive: Create a fruitless abortion debate on the Senate floor.
That’s grandstanding, not leadership. All Iowans — even those opposed to abortion — deserve better.