In the campaign for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) released an ad last week criticizing his opponent, state Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak), for her position on so-called fetal personhood and her belief that abortion providers should be treated as criminals.
The ad cites Ernst’s support for Senate Joint Resolution 10, which proposed an amendment to the Iowa constitution that would have given the “inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development.” This would grant full legal protections to an embryo from the moment of conception.
The ad claims that the amendment would “outlaw abortion even in cases of rape or incest.” There is no provision in the amendment that would allow for those exceptions. Ernst was one of 21 lawmakers who sponsored the resolution, which was never brought to the floor for a vote.
The ad claims that the amendment “would have banned many common forms of birth control.” The amendment would indeed effectively ban any hormonal forms of birth control.
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The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes personhood measures. In a statement, the organization said that such measures “erode women’s basic rights to privacy and bodily integrity; deny women access to the full spectrum of preventive health care including contraception; and undermine the doctor-patient relationship.”
The ad also claims that Ernst wants criminal punishment for doctors who perform an abortion. Ernst is shown during a May debate saying that “the [abortion] provider should be punished, if there were a personhood amendment.”
Ernst criticized Bradley for the ad and defended her views on personhood in a statement to the Des Moines Register. “As a woman and a mother, I don’t need a lecture from Bruce Braley about women’s issues. I will always protect women’s access to birth control. I always have and always will,” she said in the statement.
Ernst has been a leading anti-choice voice in the state senate since she was elected in a 2011 special election. She was one of nine Republican senators who called for banning telemedicine abortions care in the state. Ernst has also been endorsed by the Iowa Right to Life.