By Jason Noble
Here are transcripts of some of the key exchanges in the debate, and facts and context surrounding the issues discussed.
Q: Would you pursue, support or sponsor legislation at the federal level that deals with abortion, abortion funding or drugs connected to abortion or contraception?
Bruce Braley: What I won't do is support the type of legislation that Senator Ernst introduced in Iowa that would have banned all forms of abortion, that would have prevented certain forms of contraception from being available to Iowa women, that would have prevented in vitro fertilization and would have prosecuted doctors for performing what are now legal procedures. I don't think it's the role of government to get in between women and their physicians in making decisions related to their health care, and that's what I won't support.
Joni Ernst: I support life. I believe in life. And that's a discussion that we need to have civilly. The amendment that's being referenced by the congressman would not do any of the things that he stated it would do. That amendment is simply a statement that I support life. And my faith has shaped me on this very issue. It is a very, very personal issue. I think it is something we will continue to disagree on. I will support life. The congressman believes in partial-birth abortion. And these are things that we'll just continue to disagree on them, but we can disagree on them civilly.
Braley: Senator Ernst, I respect your faith. I have my own faith that is very deep and personal to me. But let's be clear: The Cedar Rapids Gazette did a fact-check on the amendment that you introduced that said it would do all the things that I said it would. That it would ban forms of contraception, it would prevent people from getting in vitro fertilization, and you personally said that doctors who performed those procedures under your bill should be prosecuted. That's the reality and that's what the Cedar Rapids Gazette said.
Ernst: That is only if legislation would be passed. This amendment, then, was a statement of life. When it does come to a woman's access to contraception, I will always stand with our women on affordable access to contraception. That's something that Congressman Braley has been trying to mislead our women voters on. I do believe in a woman's right to contraception.
Facts and context
Ernst was among 20 Republicans and one Democrat who supported Senate Joint Resolution 10 in 2013, a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution ensuring "the inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected." The measure, known as a "personhood amendment," failed to advance in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
It was similar to proposals in several other states offered by opponents of legal abortion, who believe the change would circumvent the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and outlaw abortion.
Critics -- including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- say such measures would ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest and possibly prohibit the use of common contraceptives like birth control pills and intrauterine devices. Braley echoed those criticisms Sunday.
The Braley campaign also has pointed to Ernst's comments during a GOP primary debate in which she said abortion providers "should be punished" if a personhood amendment were in effect.
On Sunday, Ernst and her campaign said the proposed amendment was intended only as a statement of opposition to abortion and wouldn't change the state's laws or policies regarding that procedure or access to contraceptives.
The language of the Iowa amendment is different from measures that failed in Colorado and Mississippi, which specifically defined the term "person" in state law.