TAMPAâ" Republicans meeting here to draft the partyâs platform are likely to stick with a plank that calls for a constitutional amendment protecting âhuman lifeââ" a broad anti-abortion position that is silent on whether exceptions should be allowed in cases of rape and incest.
The anti-abortion plank, which has long been part of the partyâs platform, is likely to receive increased attention in the wake of controversial comments about abortion and rape by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who is running for the U.S. Senate.
Akin has apologized for indicating in a weekend television interview that pregnancy rarely results from âlegitimate rape.â But he has not backed off the broader point he was making â" that he is opposed to allowing abortions in cases of rape because it results in âharming another innocent victim.â
The party platform under consideration by 112 GOP delegates from around the country includes an abortion plank identical to that adopted by the party in 2008.
It calls for the adoption of a âhuman lifeâ amendment to the Constitution and for legislation recognizing the rights of unborn children under the 14th Amendment.
That language would seem to preclude allowing for abortion in any instance except when the life of the mother was threatened. But the draft does not specify such, and party leaders here said the issue is too granular to be addressed in what is intended to be a broad statement of party principle.
Although Republicans are broadly united in their opposition to abortion, there is division over whether abortion should be allowed in some extreme cases if the nationâs laws were changed to make the practice generally illegal.
Many party leaders agree with allowing exceptions for rape, a view shared by presidential candidate Mitt Romney and 75 percent of the public according to Gallup polls. But some conservatives and anti-abortion activists believe that viewpoint is inconsistent with their belief that abortion is murder.
Asked whether the platform would outline cases in which abortion should be allowed, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, chairman of the platform committee, said Monday, âI donât think it gets into that level of detail.â
âWe just affirm our belief that human life should be protected and supported and we call for a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which has been part of the platform for, I think, 20 years,â McDonnell said. He added that he disagreed with Akinâs comments.
âThose remarks do not reflect my views, or, I think, the views of this platform committee,â he said.
Polls show Americans broadly oppose a constitutional amendment banning abortion, making the platform language largely aspirational, representing the GOPâs guiding philosophy on the issue.
Delegates will continue to debate and amend the platform Tuesday before submitting it for adoption by the full party when the Republican National Convention opens next week.
The draft platform also includes language endorsing traditional marriage as the best environment for raising children and calls for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage.
But it does not include specific reference to reinstating the militaryâs âdonât ask, donât tellâ ban against gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Instead, it merely says that the party ârejects the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation.â
Log Cabin Republicans, who represent gay GOP members, said they believed the language represented a newly-inclusive party.
The draft includes a number of planks designed to represent the views of tea party activists, with their focus on fiscal and debt issues, and supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), both present in Tampa.
One plank calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve, a top priority for many Paul supporters. Another would endorse the reexamination of the âfunction, justification and existenceâ of a series of federal agencies, including the Energy Department, the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Another would add a new constitutional amendment requiring the vote of a super-majority of Congress to raise taxes, except in times of war or national emergency.