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Will 'Personhood' Doom Joni Ernst's Senate Bid?

Will 'Personhood' Doom Joni Ernst's Senate Bid?

When she was in the Iowa state legislature, GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst supported a change in the Iowa constitution which would have recognized the unborn child as a person from the moment of conception. Called “personhood”, the idea has never succeeded though it has been tried repeatedly and in especially pro-life states like Mississippi. 

Ernst’s opponent Democrat Bruce Braley has released an attack ad highlighting her support for “personhood” that accuses her of wanting to ban some forms of contraception and ends with “radical ideas, wrong for Iowa.” 

The personhood approach puts otherwise pro-life politicians in a bind. If they do not support such measures, they run the risk of alienating at least some of the pro-life base and being accused of not being pro-life. 

However, “personhood” is something of a quixotic effort since it has never passed into law–not even in pro-life states–and if it did, it would be highly unlikely to pass constitutional muster. Not even the very conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia supports the proposition of personhood under the 14th amendment for the unborn child. 

Finally, it opens politicians to charges of extremism since abortion proponents have successfully convinced single women–erroneously–that “personhood” efforts will ban contraception. This is erroneous because by definition contraception stops conception–the sperm fertilizing the ovum–while “personhood” protects the child only after the sperm fertilizes the ovum. 

This same battle is playing itself out in the Colorado Senate race and may torpedo Republican Cory Gardner’s chances of unseating Democrat Mark Udall. This is the next iteration of the Democratic meme called the “war on women.”

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