Legislator shows how to run on moral issues and win

Legislator shows how to run on moral issues and win

Iowa legislator Tom Shaw defends the right to life of all innocent persons from fertilization to natural death.

Oct. 19, 2011

Photograph of Tom Shaw

Tom W. Shaw

DES MOINES, IA — For legislator Tom Shaw, protecting innocent human life is not just a check-list item or a political platform plank. It is a personal passion.

Shaw, who is the chief of police in Laurens, IA, ran for the Iowa House of Representatives in 2010 in Iowa House District 8. He put moral issues at the forefront of his campaign. Defending the right to life of all innocent persons was his top priority.

He said, "I have chosen to run for the Iowa House as I feel that the values that Iowans hold dear are under attack. Our rich heritage and pioneer spirit have always made Iowa a great place to live and to raise our families. We take great pride in our communities, schools and churches."

At his campaign website Shaw made eight pledges. The first was to "Defend the right to life of all innocent persons, from fertilization to natural death." He ran as a Republican in a district controlled for 30 years by Democrats. He won by a two-to-one margin.

Fulfilling his pledge to defend the right to life

When he got to Des Moines, he fulfilled those pledges, including the right-to-life pledge. Shaw co-sponsored a life-at-conception personhood bill (HF 153) and worked diligently to promote it despite opposition from the Republican majority and the Democratic minority in the Iowa House. When the Republican leadership tried to kill the bill by preventing a vote on it, Shaw used a procedural maneuver to force a vote. Of the 99 members of the Iowa House, 24 Republicans and one Democrat voted for the personhood bill; 33 Republicans and 39 Democrats voted against the bill. Two Republicans were excused from the vote. A third, the wife of a pastor, reportedly was present all day up until the vote took place and then ran out of the chamber prior to the vote.

As an alternative to personhood legislation, Republicans in the Iowa House introduced bills to regulate abortion rather than abolish it. Shaw opposed all such legislation. He referred to a proposed fetal-pain bill (HF 5) as "worse than Roe v. Wade" because the proposed bill declared all preborn babies to be persons and then said that if they can't feel pain they can be killed. Shaw wrote:

Asking whether or not the child can feel pain is not even the right question, any more than it would be if the subject of the legislation were a paraplegic, or a child or adult who is under sedation. The proper and only question is whether or not this is a person. If they are a person, as every bit of modern science clearly indicates them to be, they must be protected by those who are sworn to protect them.

Fulfilling his pledge to protect marriage

Among the other pledges that Tom Shaw has kept is his pledge to "Defend traditional marriage and call for a constitutional amendment which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman." In 2009, all seven Iowa Supreme Court justices (who have judicial authority, not legislative authority) decreed a change in Iowa law: Marriage must include same-sex couples. Neither the Iowa General Assembly nor the people of Iowa took action to implement the change in the law. Nevertheless Gov. Chet Culver issued an executive order (in violation of Iowa law) to all county recorders in Iowa requiring them to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

In 2010, Culver was up for reelection, and three of the seven supreme court justices were on the ballot in a retention election. All four were defeated. Tom Shaw won his first term in the Iowa House.

Earlier that year, in the Republican primary, a former Iowa governor, Terry Branstad, who had appointed some of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices who issued the marriage ruling, was trying to get back in the governor's mansion. He was being challenged by Bob Vanderplatz, who said that if he were elected governor, on Day One he would issue an executive order enforcing Iowa law, which says that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Sarah Palin, who was highly regarded in Iowa, endorsed Branstad, and Branstad won the primary and went on to win the general election.

After he was sworn into the Iowa House, Tom Shaw introduced articles of impeachment against the four remaining justices who had demanded that marriage licenses be issued to same-sex couples. Branstad and the GOP leadership in the Iowa House opposed and thwarted impeachment proceedings.

The basis of his commitment

Regarding his position and actions on moral issues such as the right to life and the sanctity of marriage, Shaw was asked, "Am I correct in understanding that you... are basing your stance on a Christian worldview?"

He replied, "Absolutely!"

Despite opposition, Tom Shaw remains committed to defending the God-given unalienable right to life and the God-ordained institution of marriage. He is up for reelection in 2012.

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