Monday, May 3, 2010 Gubernatorial candidates share personal st

At least two Republican gubernatorial candidates would axe funding to an Iowa City cloning research facility as well as to Planned Parenthood as part of their anti-abortion stance if elected to the state’s highest office.

Bob Vander Plaats and Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll, announced such plans at a Saturday pro-life forum at Campus Baptist Church in Ames. They were joined by gubernatorial candidate Jon Narcisse, who is running as an independent.

“No tax dollars should be going toward Planned Parenthood,” said Roberts, a five-term state lawmaker. “Time and time again in the Legislature, I have stood up for the sanctity of human life. If governor, I will continue that by ceasing funding to Planned Parenthood and to human cloning research.”

Vander Plaats, a former Sioux City high school principal, echoed Roberts’ sentiments, saying he too would stop tax dollars from being used for either entity.

Both Republicans said their pro-life stances were drawn from personal experiences, rather than their party’s stance on abortion. Vander Plaats, a father of four, has a teenage son with a brain disorder resulting in physical disability. Roberts’ wife gave birth to a stillborn child.

Roberts said if elected governor, he would push for legislation legally identifying a fetus as a child. Vander Plaats would pass a similar human rights amendment.

Vander Plaats said he believes pro-life lawmakers have lost ground in prior sessions when it comes to advocating pro-life efforts. “There’s a time when leaders need to lead,” he said. “That time is now. I’ll be bold and courageous on marriage, on life and on the separation of powers (of the courts and the Legislature).”

Though Narcisse expressed distaste for the two-party system, he has made a very public pro-life stance, which he, like the two Republican candidates, said is deeply seeded in a personal experience. A former partner of Narcisse’s chose to abort a child he was the father of, he told attendees Saturday.

“I have wondered about my dead child, and what that child would have contributed to this world,” Narcisse, an adoptive father of two girls, said.

Narcisse said he wants Iowans to get back to their convictions, adding the political class has caused voters to compromise their principles.

“Americans, I have found, are pro-life. They are pro-family,” he said. “But the political class has betrayed us. They are more loyal to the parties, not their beliefs. I think we need to start healing the heart.”

A loyal to beliefs over party stance appealed to attendee Debi Zahn, of Stratford.

“I appreciated them getting up there and saying why they believe what they believe, and not just because it’s their party’s position,” Zahn said. “They can say, ‘Yes, I’m pro-life, and I’ve walked though (that experience.)”

The forum gave candidates, all of them Republican except for Narcisse, an opportunity to have one-and-one time with constituents. Forum turn-out was low at about 50 people but the attendees were enthusiastic and engaged with the candidates.

Also participating in Saturday's forum were local legislative candidates Chad Steenhoek and Tim Gartin. The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor, former Gov. Terry Branstad, did not participate.

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