Greg Sargent is a patient, hard-working man. Most of us just hooted in derision at Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst’s claim that the Personhood amendment she supported as an Iowa legislature was meaningless other than as an expression of her religious faith. I mean, after all, couldn’t she have worn a cross around her neck like most of us Christians do, or inserted a prayer each day into the legislative record? What exactly about a constitutional amendment granting the full panoply of human rights, enforceable by law, to zygotes, struck her as a mere “statement?” Could anyone who aspires to the United States Senate be so dim as to fail to understand that amending the highest law of her state would indeed have a “legal” effect? (Yes, it would be inevitably found unconstitutional by federal courts, but that’s true of much of the agenda of antichoicers).

But Greg, bless him, goes to the trouble of tracking down “personhood” supporters who most definitely don’t view their efforts as “symbolic,” and finds Ernst’s own words in which she insists she wants to “defend” and “protect”, by force of law, zygotes from women seeking post-fertilization contraception or abortion, not just give them a shout-out. But even he returns to incredulity at Ernst’s claim:

Ernst now suggests the measure she supported is nothing more than a “statement.” As it happens, because these amendments have not passed, it remains unclear what sort of impact they would have. But this should not obscure the fact that Personhood measures are clearly intended to have a real-world impact: To grant full human rights from the moment of fertilization, with all of the concrete policy implications that carries.

To claim otherwise, it would appear, slanders Joni Ernst as being a cynical manipulator of the antichoice activists who most definitely do want to stop women from controlling their own bodies, or just not real bright. Choose for yourself which quality you want in a U.S. Senator.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.