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Gov. Bob McDonnell, the leading architect of this year’s Republican national platform, was recently asked to explain why a plank calling for an anti-abortion amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not provide an exception for rape.
Controversy over abortion flared in the days leading up to last week’s GOP national convention
when Todd Akin, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri, said that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy because "the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down." Many Republican officials, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have called on Akin to withdraw from the race. Akin has apologized for his comment, but won’t end his campaign.
On Aug. 26, former Gov. Charlie Crist, R-Fla., endorsed President Barack Obama in this fall’s election. Crist, in a column in the Tampa Bay Times, wrote that the GOP has included "the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims."
That same morning, McDonnell appeared on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" and said there is no Akin amendment. "I tell you, that’s so far afield," he said about Crist’s charge. "He’s wrong on the platform."
McDonnell said the GOP’s platform that supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion and is silent on whether there should be exceptions for rape or other circumstances "has been there for more than 30 years."
"The details, certainly, are left to Congress, and ultimately, to the states and the people on how they ratify such an amendment and, more importantly, what they do at the state level," the governor said.
We wondered if this year’s plank seeking an anti-abortion amendment in the constitution really is no different than those of the last 30 years.
There are several mentions of abortion in the 2012 platform. The GOP opposes federal funding for the procedure and seeks a ban on partial-birth abortions.
The sweeping platform statement on abortion says, "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. 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."
This wording has varied only slightly since 1984, when the plank read, "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We therefore reaffirm our support for 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 1980, the GOP favored an abortion amendment and was silent on exceptions. The party, however, offered an olive branch to those who disagreed. The plank said, "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 made its platform debut in 1976 at the first GOP national convention to be held after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 establishing abortion rights nationwide. The platform said, "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."
McDonnell said the GOP’s platform that supports an anti-abortion amendment to the constitution is silent on whether there should be exceptions for rape or other circumstances "has been there for more than 30 years."
The facts back him up. We rate his statement True.
This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Bob McDonnell and Antonio Villaraigosa debate, starting around 5:30, Aug. 26, 2012.
Tampa Bay Times, Charlie Crist: Here’s why I’m backing Barack Obama, 8/26/12.
Republican National Committee, Republican Party platform, accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
PolitiFact, "Charlie Crist said the GOP platform bans abortion even in cases of rape," Aug. 27, 2012.
The American Presidency Project, Political Party Platforms of Parties Receiving Electoral Votes: 1840-2012, accessed Aug. 28, 2012.
The Washington Post, "GOP platform through the years shows party’s shift from moderate to conservative," Aug. 28, 2012.
The Washington Post, "Todd Akin’s rape comments prompt GOP to pull campaign funding, calls to exit race," Aug. 20, 2012.
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