Personal freedom/small government myth

On Friday, Chuck Hurley of The Family Leader sent an email to supporters that, among other things, named Iowa Rep. Walt Rogers the group’s “Hero of the Week.”

Walt Rogers

Hurley wrote:

… Walt’s philosophy: “it’s not just whether you declare freedom on one official day — it’s what you’re going to do about freedom the next day and the day after.” As he watched government intrude deeper into our lives, he recognized that we need leaders to step up and turn things around. …

While Rogers may oppose deeper government intrusion into lives, he quite obviously has no qualms regarding deeper government intrusion into bodies. You see, one of the reasons Hurley and The Family Leader have chosen to honor Rogers is because of his sponsorship of House File 2033, which mandates doctors provide certain medical procedures to women seeking an abortion. Specifically:

A physician performing an abortion shall certify in the woman’s medical record all of the following prior to the performance of an abortion:

a. That the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the fetus.

b. That the woman is given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image of the fetus.

c. That the woman is given the option of hearing a description of the ultrasound image and hearing the heartbeat of the fetus.

Any doctor that does not comply with this mandate is subject license discipline, which may include a civil penalty up to $10,000. Further, the proposal provides no avenue for the woman to refuse this additional procedure. The Iowa proposal was introduced by Rogers on Jan. 12, just three days into the 2012 session, and was handed to a Human Resources subcommittee. According to a numerical listing of bills eligible for House debate, this bill is currently dead in subcommittee.

Although advocates of this type of legislation like to paint the proposals as one more layer of informed consent by women, such laws result in a requirement for women to undergo an invasive transvaginal probe without consent and, often, against the woman’s wishes. Transvaginal ultrasounds, which involve insertion of a hard plastic probe encased in a condom and gel into the vagina, are often the primary means of detecting gestational age in the early stages of pregnancy. The probe, which is called a transducer, is rotated and moved within the vagina in order for the doctor to direct the sound waves distributed by the device to appropriate place within the pelvis.

Under Rogers’ proposal, doctors would essentially become agents of the state, and women would lose their Fourth Amendment protection of personal privacy and dignity against unwarranted intrusion by the state — which I’m pretty sure is not something most people consider as a protection of personal freedom or limiting government intrusion.

Hurley also gives Rogers kudos for managing House Study Bill 525, which revamps the Iowa Criminal Code (Section 728) regarding materials that are classified as obscene. In addition to the study bill in the House, the Senate is considering SSB 3034. While providing kudos to both Rogers and the bill for providing “stronger enforcement provisions to prosecute criminals involved with child pornography,” what Hurley and The Family Leader fail to note is that both study bills were presented to the Legislature by the Democrat-controlled Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

The two study bills were developed by the Attorney General’s Office in response to a 2004 case involving a Marshalltown man named Randall Frederick Muhlenbruch. The State ultimately appealed the case to the Iowa Supreme Court because Muhlenbruch, who had been arrested with multiple (348) child pornography images on a single computer, won a district court battle that the evidence constituted only one offense. The man had been charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, with each count based on separate instances of downloading prohibited sexual images.

The district court’s decision of only one count was upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court in February 2007, and based on the exact wording of the Iowa law that prohibits the “possession” of a “computer” or “other print or visual medium” that depicts a minor engaged in prohibited sexual acts. Essentially, Iowa law did not define the crime as possession of a pornographic image involving a minor, but as possession of the “computer” or “other print or visual medium” that contained the images.  The bills proposed by the Attorney General are an attempt clarify Legislative intent regarding such material and also provide updates in relation to technology.

Although it has nothing to do with the study bills before the Iowa Legislature, I’m also going to note that Muhlenbruch brought an appeal before the Eighth Circuit, which ruled in February 2011 that one of the convictions against him be vacated and that he be resentenced on the other.

In the last paragraph of the email to supporters, Hurley notes that the organization will once again conduct training based on Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project. After reading the other parts of Hurley’s email I can only assume that “Truth” as defined by the organizations does not include accidentally-on-purpose errors of omission.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


A Republican turned Democrat who is now registered with no party, Lynda is the founder of Essential Estrogen. She and her husband live in eastern Iowa with their two (mostly good) children and two (mostly good) dogs. Their oldest child was turned loose on the world in 2011 and is making her home in another state. A journalist, essayist and hobby fiction writer, Lynda's work has been seen in Salon, RH Reality Check, the Atlantic, The Iowa Independent, UK Guardian as well as other online and traditional publications. She has also appeared as a guest on various television and radio news shows.

2 Responses to “Personal freedom/small government myth”

  1. Jose
    February 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    The family leader likes people to believe it is non-partisan and willing to work with anyone, but your post shows this isn’t true. There was no way the group would willingly give props to Democrat Tom Miller, even when Miller’s office did something they agree with. It says a lot about the organization being nothing more than an arm of the most extreme portions of the GOP

  2. Tarra Dorosh
    March 2, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    Great web site you’ve got here. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!