The chairman of the Republican Party's Platform Committee said Sunday that the GOP is a "pro-life party" that takes no stand on whether there should be a "rape exception" to restrictions on abortion or abortion funding. The pro-life plank adopted by the committee made no mention of exceptions, a point host George Stephanopoulos raised on ABCs This Week with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who chaired the proceedings of the Platform Committee last week.
"So is the party for a rape exception or not?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"The party didn't make any judgment on that," replied McDonnell. "It's a general proposition to say we support human life. The rest of those details are up to the states and the people respectively, George, and that's simply not covered."
The plank, titled "The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life," declares "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life that 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." The plank expresses the party's opposition to funding or subsidies for health care that includes abortion coverage, as well as federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The party also opposes "active and passive euthanasia, and assisted suicide," the platform says.
"That's been there for 30 years," McDonnell said about the strong pro-life language in the platform. But the silence on the question of exceptions for rape and incest has become a hotly contested issue during the past several days, following comments made by Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri. Akin said in a televised interview that instances of pregnancy resulting from cases of "legitimate rape" are rare and that when it does occur, "the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
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Jack Kenny (photo)