Republicans for Choice Chair: Akin “Helpful for Us”

This post has been updated.

Ann Stone, national chair of the group Republicans for Choice, told me this morning that the abortion plank in the Republican Party platform, as currently drafted, is “shorter and less inflammatory” than in the past. While it doesn’t endorse so-called personhood, it does endorse a Human Life Amendment, as the platform has for the past several election cycles.

Stone noted that she did not have a copy of the draft in front of her, as the Committee did not permit anyone other than delegates to have a copy, and that the draft was still in progress.

CNN reported this morning that the Committee was preparing “tough” anti-abortion language, but Stone said, as she was hurriedly returning to theCommittee meetings, “it could have been worse,” adding, however, “it could have been better.”

The last draft that Stone saw, she told me, did not identify a human life amendment by name, and did not designate a particular version of it. But, she said, the current plank “came out of the subcommittee without endorsing personhood.” She described the draft as endorsing “the more traditional human life amendment” that Republicans have never, in reality, “bothered to bring up.” (That proposed amendment aims to reverse Roe v. Wade, although some versions have called for statements that life begins at conception.) She said the subcommittee did not adopt the personhood bill that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “is pushing,” which would, rather than amending the Constitution, would statutorily grant constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment to fetuses. (I wrote about a similar proposal here.)

The platform committee also rejected language Republicans for Choice proposed, which, Stone said, “calls for religious liberty and for people to follow the faith of their own choice” on abortion. “Most mainline religions are pro-choice,” Stone said. This was the first time Republicans for Choice attempted to include such language, prompted by the anti-choicers’ own “religious liberty” campaign. “Might as well use their own arguments against them,” she said. 

During “listening sessions” the Platform Committee discussed placing, for the first time, planks on abortion and same-sex marriage under the heading “Faith.” They now fall under the heading “Restoring Constitutional Governance.”

Stone added that the controversy around Rep. Todd Akin’s statements on “legitimate rape” have been “helpful to us” because they expose party members’ reliance on “junk science.” Akin “believes this and says stupid things,” she said.

“The buzz here—except for Phyllis Schafly—is that he’s an idiot, or I should say, he’s a robot on these things.”

UPDATE: The platform approved by the committee (and subject to final approval next week) is, as Kat Stoeffel reports, “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.

Stoeffel adds:

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 1984-2008 advocated for a human life amendment to the constitution and legislation that applies the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to unborn children.

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