The Republican National Committee approved a platform amendment opposing abortion Tuesday, essentially reproducing its stated policies from 2008 and 2004 - and highlighting a potential divide between Mitt Romney and some in his party on the issue.
The amendment does not mention cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. Romney supports the legality of abortion in those cases, but Republicans disagree on the point. By remaining silent on the issue, the platform leaves room for disagreement within Republican ranks.
After controversial comments by Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri on rape and pregnancy brought the issue of abortion in cases of rape to the forefront of national discussion, the Romney campaign said on Monday in a prepared statement: "Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."
Romney and former president George W. Bush hold the same view on abortion, according to National Right to Life Committee Executive Director David O'Steen. In conversations with the group, both men represented their stances as anti-abortion except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother, O'Steen said.
At a meeting of the RNC Platform Committee in Tampa, Fla., committee chairman and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell congratulated members of the subcommittee that drafted the language of the platform amendment.
"In past platforms, that has been in hours of discussion, and I applaud the committee's work in our respect for human life. Well done," McDonnell said, announcing the amendment's inclusion in the party platform without objection and without a vote.
Here is the text of the new platform section on "sanctity of life," as dictated to ABC over the phone by an RNC official:
Faithful to the "self-evident" truths enshrined in our 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 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and the infirm; just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial birth abortions, permitted states to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by exacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties to health care providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions - gender-discrimination in its most lethal form - and to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a revision of federal law 42USC289.92 to bar the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop life-saving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
We also salute the many states that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulations. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoption that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.
Here is the text of the same section in the last iteration of the RNC platform (page 52), approved in 2008:
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 14th 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.