Politico Scrutinizes GOP for Pro-life Language in Platform, Fails to Note Dems Won't Budge On Their Stringent Abortion Plank

"GOP rejects rape exception in platform," blared a Politico headline yesterday. "Even as Mitt Romney sought to quash the furor surrounding Todd Akin’s 'legitimate' rape comments, the Republican platform committee here approved an abortion plank that includes no exemptions for rape, incest or even to save the life of the mother," James Hohmann noted in the lead paragraph of his August 21 story.

"On Tuesday, not one of the 100-plus members on the GOP platform committee introduced amendments. They kept the identical language from 2004 and 2008," Hohmann groused, comporting to the media's quadrennial fixation on how the GOP is supposedly too extremely pro-life. By contrast, as I noted yesterday, the 15-person Democratic platform committee -- one member of which is NARAL Pro-Choice America's president -- earlier this month stubbornly refused to mildly soften their party's stringent pro-choice abortion plank. Politico, of course, failed to cover that controversy.


In July, Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) meekly requested that the Democratic Party Platform Committee add language to the party's abortion plank that resembles language from 1996 and 2000 platforms that holds that the party is welcoming to pro-life members:

"We respect the conscience of each American and recognize that members of our Party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion and the death penalty. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues.

However, we can find common ground. We believe that we can reduce the number of abortions because we are united in our support for policies that assist families who find themselves in crisis or unplanned pregnancies. We believe that women deserve to have a breadth of options available as they face pregnancy: including, among others, support and resources needed to handle the challenges of pregnancy, adoption, and parenthood; access to education, healthcare, childcare; and appropriate child support. We envision a new day without financial or societal barriers to bringing a planned or unplanned pregnancy to term."

That language was not approved, and it should be no surprise considering NARAL president Nancy Keenan was on the committee but no known pro-life Democrats were.

The 2012 Democratic Party platform is not formally approved yet, but if it's anything like the 2008 document, it will be staunchly pro-choice, including a statement that the Party "oppose[s] any and all efforts to weaken or undermine" the right to an abortion.

That's a rather inflexible, absolutist position that fails to account for the complex views most Americans hold on abortion. For instance, as Democrats for Life noted in a recent press release:

  • 61% of Democrats support parental consent for minors seeking abortion (Gallup, 2011);
  • 60% of Democrats support a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion (Gallup, 2011);
  • 84% of Democrats support informed consent (Gallup, 2011);
  • 49% of Democrats support an ultrasound requirement (Gallup, 2011);
  • 59% of Democrats support a ban on partial-birth abortions (Gallup, 2011).

Of course, DFLA wasn't even calling for the party to signal approval of those common-sense measures, it simply wanted the party to recognize that pro-lifers should be welcome in the party's ranks. Even that, however, was too much for the party's pro-choice extremists.

Yet a search on Politico's website finds no reporting on DFLA's request nor of the committee's refusal to adopt the language. It's not like Politico has completely ignored the drafting of the Democratic Party platform. Politico has, for example, reported on the platform committee's unanimous approval of a plank endorsing same-sex marriage and calling for repeal of the President Clinton-signed Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be repealed.

On July 30, Politico reporters Reid Epstein and Byron Tau noted that some southern Democrats were worried about the gay marriage plank and noted that both White House and Democratic Party spokesmen refused to comment about such criticism.

Back to Hohmann's reporting, it's notable that the Politico writer failed to quote directly from the Republican platform, instead summarizing some of its points. Since the language is reportedly identical to the 2008 document, here's the actual language of the plank from '08:

Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all 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 we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.

We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the nonconsensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best possible value.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters