PETA Argues Iowa’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Is a Violation of the Constitution

Written by PETA | October 10, 2017

Today, PETA filed a lawsuit challenging Iowa’s “ag-gag” law, Iowa Code § 717A.3A. The lawsuit is brought by PETA along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Center for Food Safety, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism–IowaWatch, and Bailing Out Benji. The lawsuit is challenging the Iowa statute on the basis that it’s a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and freedom of the press as well as the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

PETA’s eyewitness investigations on factory farms, including in Iowa, have found sadistic workers kicking pigs in the head and spraying paint in their faces, stomping and throwing chickens and turkeys like footballs, smashing piglets’ heads against concrete floors, and beating and sexually assaulting pigs with steel gate rods and hard plastic herding canes. Iowa should be passing laws to require cameras in all slaughterhouses and on all factory farms to catch the abusers, not protecting them.

PETA’s exposés have drastically changed the public conversation about the treatment of farmed animals—so much so that state legislatures have designed “ag-gag” bills to target PETA specifically.

We brought this lawsuit because the Iowa “ag-gag” law is a blatant violation of free speech and freedom of the press. It seeks to punish the witnesses who expose illegal and inhumane conduct on factory farms. Iowa should be ashamed that it passed a law to shield the crime of animal abuse.

pig in German pig farm

pig in German pig farm

The American public has a right to know about the horrific conditions on factory farms. For more than 100 years, investigative accounts of meatpacking plants have been celebrated for raising public awareness and prompting social change. “Ag-gag” laws seek to punish the whistleblowers who are acting in the public interest and informing the public about the crimes and abuses that occur behind the closed doors of factory farms.

Cruelty has been exposed in foie gras video and pictures

Cruelty has been exposed in foie gras video and pictures

The only way to expose the cruelty and abuse in the meat, dairy, and egg industries is through critical eyewitness investigations. There’s absolutely no federal regulation of the treatment of animals on factory farms—only limited laws addressing slaughter and transport, and even these are hardly enforced. The notion of any effective federal oversight of these facilities is a sad joke. The only way to help clean up and end despicable factory farming practices is through the disinfecting power of the truth revealed by eyewitness investigations.

Since PETA was founded, nearly 40 years ago, we’ve been uncovering and exposing illegal actions and egregious cruelty in laboratories, in circuses, on fur farms, in puppy mills, on factory farms, and in slaughterhouses. Our investigations also resulted in the first felony prosecutions and the first felony convictions for cruelty to animals on factory farms.

People have a right to know what’s being done to animals behind closed doors. Iowa is one of the states with the highest concentration of factory farms and is therefore where much of the cruelty to animals inherent in factory farming takes place. No “ag-gag” law is immune from challenge.

‘Ag-Gag’ Laws Struck Down in Idaho and Utah, Thanks to PETA

This isn’t the first time that PETA has challenged “ag-gag” laws in court. In 2015, in a landmark victory, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho struck down Idaho’s “ag-gag” law, deeming it unconstitutional.

In July, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah struck down the state’s “ag-gag” statute, also finding that it violated the U.S. Constitution.

Just like Idaho’s and Utah’s “ag-gag” laws, Iowa’s statute is attempting to hide animal abuse and prevent the public from hearing about it, and PETA will once again fight to oppose such dishonesty.

What You Can Do

The best way for you to save more than 100 animals every year from a life of misery on a cramped, filthy factory farm and a painful death at a slaughterhouse is to try healthy, compassionate vegan eating. Luckily, that’s easier than ever, thanks to PETA’s vegan starter kit. Click the button below to order your free kit and start saving lives today: