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GOP platform committee approves tough anti-abortion stance

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 12:32pm

Republicans drafting their party's official policy platform on Tuesday ratified a call for a Constitutional ban on abortion that makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The vote to endorse the party's long-standing opposition to abortion and support for a "human life amendment" took place at a meeting of the GOP's official platform committee in Tampa, the site of next week's Republican National Convention.

The party's official stance on abortion was approved after just a few minutes of discussion. The language in the platform must be voted on before the full Republican Convention next week, though Republicans say it is all but certain to pass.

"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," the platform language declares. "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."

Platform committee chairman Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia thanked the 110-member committee for "affirming our respect for human life" and quickly moved on to other topics as top advisers to Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign looked on from the back of the room.

Because the language about a Constitutional abortion ban is similar to language in past Republican platforms, the vote might normally have escaped notice.

But the debate over abortion -- and exceptions for rape victims -- was thrust into the national political spotlight on Sunday in the wake of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape."

Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan sharply condemned Akin's remarks and pledged that under a Romney administration, abortion would be allowed in the case of rape.

An exemption for rape, though, is not included in the platform set to be adopted by the party Romney will officially lead when he accepts the Republican nomination next week.

And Ryan, his vice presidential pick, has opposed exceptions for rape and voted alongside Akin in the House, though Ryan now says he defers to Romney's position on the matter.

Republican officials said the language in the platform was "100% pro-life" but stressed that the document has to remain vague and avoid specific language about abortion exceptions because different states have varying abortion regulations.

In the abortion and "sanctity of life" platform, Republicans also outlined its opposition to federally-funded embryonic stem cell research and demanded that the government "not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage."

Additionally, the party inserted a "salute" to states pushing "informed consent" laws - an apparent reference to ultrasound bills that have moved through some state legislatures - "mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation."

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