GOP Dusts Off the Old Abortion Plank

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Photo: Corbis

In case you missed the huge wire hanger on top of The Huffington Post, Republican officials voted to pass the party’s abortion platform today, including its call for a constitutional ban on abortion with no exception for rape and incest. CNN reports:

"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."

In light of Representative Todd Akin’s remark that abortion for rape victims is unnecessary because pregnancy can't occur from “legitimate rapes” and the legislation draft co-sponsored by Akin and VP nominee Paul Ryan allowing federally funded abortions only for the victims of “forcible rape,” the platform sounds dire and extreme. (Especially considering Akin isn't even pulling out of his Senate race.) But it’s exactly the same as the GOP’s 2008 abortion stance, give or take an “inherent” and a “self-evident.”

“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.”

In fact, the Republican Party’s platform on abortion has gone virtually unchanged since Ronald Reagan ran for reelection, according to the archive at The American Presidency Project. Platforms from 19842008 advocated for a human life amendment to the constitution and legislation that applies the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to unborn children.

The GOP hasn’t admitted that there’s a diversity of opinion about abortion among its members since 1980, when it stated that “the question of abortion, despite the complex nature of its various issues, is ultimately concerned with equality of rights under the law.”

“While we recognize differing views on this question among Americans in general — and in our own Party — we affirm our support of a constitutional amendment to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children.”

Abortion went unmentioned in the party's platforms until 1976, three years after Roe v. Wade — also the last time its stance acknowledged choice.

The question of abortion is one of the most difficult and controversial of our time. It is undoubtedly a moral and personal issue but it also involves complex questions relating to medical science and criminal justice. There are those in our Party who favor complete support for the Supreme Court decision which permits abortion on demand. There are others who share sincere convictions that the Supreme Court's decision must be changed by a constitutional amendment prohibiting all abortions. Others have yet to take a position, or they have assumed a stance somewhere in between polar positions.

We protest the Supreme Court's intrusion into the family structure through its denial of the parents' obligation and right to guide their minor children. The Republican Party favors a continuance of the public dialogue on abortion and supports the efforts of those who seek enactment of a constitutional amendment to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children.

Seeing how far right the GOP has gone on abortion since feminists first used the clothes hanger symbol is enough to make us think HuffPo isn’t overreacting, after all.