U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley
April 29, 2013

Daily Times Herald: If a woman wants a child, we call it a baby. If a woman doesn't want a child, it's called a fetus. Why should a woman have that power of definition, that kind of a life-and-death call over another human being. Isn't this the point where the federal government should step in and prevent that loss of life?

Congressman Braley: The federal government, in the form of the Supreme Court, a long time ago, including a Republican-nominated justice, who represented the Mayo Clinic, which has as part of its operation St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, wrote the opinion after examining centuries of legal, medical, religious and ethical principles on when life begins. And in that decision, which has stood the test of time, the Supreme Court determined that life began at the point of viability, which they defined as the moment when that fetus was able to live on its own outside the womb.

And they set up a system that was designed to protect the rights of the mother and the rights of that child at the point of viability through a three-trimester test. In the first two trimesters there are significant rights that the mother exercises and that the child can exercise in the second trimester. And then the third trimester the balance shifts to the role and life of the child.

But these are important questions. Again, it goes back to I have tremendous respect for individuals' faith and their beliefs. I got married at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Waterloo. The service was performed by my brother, who's a Presbyterian minister, and my wife's three uncles, who are Catholic priests. These aren't abstract issues for me to deal with.

You have to be able to talk about this. But what's often left out in this conversation is if you to National Conference of Catholic Bishops' website on their life agenda, abortion is a big part of it, but so is poverty. So is disease. So is hunger. All of these things are important.