Republican politicians have been falling over themselves to condemn from Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, who said Sunday that women who have experienced “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The Romney-Ryan campaign called Akin’s comments “insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong,” in spite of Ryan’s close working relationship with Akin on a number of radical anti-abortion and contraception bills. A Romney spokesperson added that the “Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
But embracing a rape exception for abortion rights would put the campaign at odds with the Republican Party’s longstanding platform, the newest iteration of which will be officially unveiled at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. In spite of the massive public outcry from the right over Akin’s comments, the official GOP platform committee drafted a provision Monday supporting a “human life amendment” that would outlaw abortion without specifying exemptions for rape or incest. The platform reads:
Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
Heading the committee is Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA), best known for his “mandatory ultrasound” law requiring any woman getting an abortion to undergo an unnecessary ultrasound. McDonnell also revealed his regressive position on women’s rights in his college thesis, which slandered working women, contraception, and “fornicators.” It’s no surprise, then, that under his guidance, the Republican Party will reaffirm its support for a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortion and likely many forms of contraception.
In saying they would not oppose a rape exception, Romney and Ryan are both changing their tune. Romney said in 2007 he would be “delighted” to sign a bill banning all abortions, and Ryan has been staunchly anti-abortion in all cases, even attempting to restrict abortion access to victims of “forcible rape” only.
The human life amendment has been a tenet of the Republican Party platform since the dawn of the Reagan era in 1980. It has survived for 32 years and nine presidential elections, even after former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pushed hard in 2000 for an explicit exception for rape and incest. McCain ceded the language to party officials during his own run in 2008.