Republican Sen. Joni Ernst responds to Obama: ‘We’ll defend life’
The woman whom Republicans chose to give the official response to Barack Obama's State of the Union address last night – Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa – vowed to chart an alternate course from the president's agenda that upholds families and protects unborn life.
The freshman senator introduced herself “as a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great state of Iowa.”
Like the president's speech, Ernst focused primarily on economic prosperity, but with a stronger emphasis on the shared values that unite Americans. Reforming the president's signature health care reform, conventionally known as ObamaCare, continues to figure high on the Republican agenda.
“We’ll work to correct executive overreach,” she said, referring to President Obama's reliance upon executive orders and regulatory fiats to impose the terms of legislation that could not or did not pass Congress.
“And we’ll defend life,” she said, “because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.”
The House of Representatives has scheduled the vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act for tomorrow, the same day as the March for Life. It is again expected to pass handily. Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he will introduce the measure shortly in the U.S. Senate, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to bring the measure to the floor for a vote this year.
The GOP has unveiled Ernst as a principled, rising, and – perhaps equally important – female face of the party's pro-life efforts, infuriating abortion providers and advocacy organizations.
Planned Parenthood tweeted:
Let’s remember: Joni Ernst supports legislation that would ban ALL abortion, and could interfere with access to birth control. #SOTU— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) January 21, 2015
NARAL also denounced “anti-choice extremist Joni Ernst.”
Ernst won a tough Republican primary against an Establishment-backed candidate, then overcame a hotly contested election to be elected to the Senate last fall, despite her refusal to disavow her support for “personhood” measures.
During the campaign, editors of the Sioux City Journal asked Ernst whether she still supported the concept of “personhood” based on her support of the Life Begins at Conception Act.
"I do believe in protecting life. And I do believe that most Iowans do believe in protecting life. And, so, I will continue to stand by that,” Ernst answered. “I support that." Opponents of the measure have tried to claim the proposal would affect contraception, although the measures themselves do not address the subject.
The Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard may be a rising star, but she refers to herself as simply “an ordinary Iowan.”