Concerned about Iowa

The past 96 hours in my home have been emotional. Wednesday night when I arrived home, an out of state coworker shared with me news from the NY Times covering the Iowa Bill – Senate File 359. A bill with a title that reads like a one person horror show; AN ACT PROHIBITING AND REQUIRING CERTAIN ACTIONS RELATING TO A FETUS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES. Our home is a what you might describe as more liberal than not. I don’t think in party lines well and tend to consider alternatives quite frequently.

I spent the 6 hours after reading the article, and learning the vote was moved through with a ~2am vote on the phone with any local leader who would listen to me. I don’t normally make after hours calls in succession based on something I read in a newspaper. My reaction was unique to say the least. 

My family is not politically well-connected or active in lawmaking. We march when we feel it’s right and we express our views when asked. Sometimes, we express our views when not asked as I’m doing today. We’re in many cases a simple family who just likes the freedoms afforded to us in Iowa and the communities we live in who support free thought.

The bill itself, simplifies human reproductive rights in 5 pages. One of the more complex issues of our time in 5 pages. Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act for example, which creates foundational guidance for our financial system is ~2,300 pages. I’d venture to guess the human soul, and the complex variations of it’s creation, is far more complex and emotional than how the nation moves money.

This oversimplification of a complex issue, isn’t something that all Iowans believe in. I’m scared not only that something like this, incomplete and inconsiderate in so many ways, was so hastily done. I’m concerned for the way it represents Iowans to the nation and I’m concerned about the message it sends our loved ones, men and women, about the level of respect our lawmakers have for us to contribute our voices to laws that govern our bodies.

I tried to imagine how men in this state would feel if they were handed a law that required that they couldn’t reproduce outside of the confines of a specific time. I imagined that because it felt like the corollary to telling women how they have no choice but to reproduce inside a given point in time. Regardless of my feeling on either issue, I don’t think that I carry the confidence to mandate this for either sex. Furthermore, I’m not sure I possess the emotional intelligence to consider how either should feel depending on how they identity as a gender and how that relates to how the law defines them. I certainly can’t encapsulate even a starting point for an idea in 5 pages.

It feels like a more complex issue than 5 pages and that I can’t shake. I have my personal feelings and for the sake of this writing I’m leaving them out because the fervent divisiveness here doesn’t need further agitation.

I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court gives this issue the careful consideration and deliberation it deserves. At no less, I hope the nation knows that this bill does not reflect the feeling or intention of all Iowans. Many of us deeply respect and appreciate that the Supreme Court gave women the right to make a decision about their body and reproduction in 1973. To overturn that would suggest we’ve regressed more than any words I possess.

I’ve also learned this week how many companies in Iowa strictly control what their employees are allowed to voice about political issues. Their silence, unfortunately makes them appear complicit to the rest of the country. If you’re not Iowan, I can assure you the leaders of businesses many times do not feel the same way their company allows them to speak. I’m hopeful in this case companies will give their boards and executives the right to voice their feelings.

As if the overarching control this suggests a government should have over a human being’s body isn’t enough, which in almost any other conversation would make the issue complex enough to warrant more than 5 pages of consideration… This also impacts which families decide to live in Iowa, where people allow their children to attend university, and ultimately the safety a generation of people feel that they have about the right to choose what is right for their body and mind. A group of adults have elected to exercise control over other adult bodies. This feels untenable. 

I don’t believe that I have any right to tell someone what to do with their body or how to raise their children. We as people are a sum of all our choices, for better or worse.

As a CEO, I’ll gladly tell the team I find this process unacceptable. As a taxpayer, I’ll loudly voice my opinion that the process was not adequate, and as a citizen and friend to many I’ll continue to talk to everyone respectfully regardless of whether or not they agree with me. I’m a little weird in that I am pro-life for myself but I am pro-choice. for everyone else. Even if I fall on one side of the spectrum, that doesn’t mean the world has to follow my choices. As a father of a little girl, I’ll openly admit it makes me question where the best place to raise her is. The question isn’t rooted in her risk for pregnancy, it’s rooted in whether or not I believe her mind will be exposed to inclusion or oppression. Creation or deletion. Freedom, or control.

This experience has certainly sent a message to me about what other people believe her life should be defined by but I don’t agree that’s right for her. As a parent, I’m empowered to make choices that I’m hopeful will enhance her likelihood to live a successful life.

I don’t feel the outcome here is the right one. I’ll keep saying it even though I’m not sure what will happen as a result. I’m so disappointed and disheartened with how all of this has occurred. I work in a place and in a community where diversity and inclusion is an important part of how we think.

The process that saw this bill through, did not include a diverse set of ideas and did not include an inclusive or cohesive plan for representing the people of Iowa fairly.

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