GOP stands firm: no abortions, no exceptions
Republicans are poised to adopt a national platform opposing abortion without the exceptions for rape or incest that Utah delegates helping to craft the document said they would have preferred, but did not seek to add.
The stance has drawn increased attention after Rep. Todd Akin, a U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, said Sunday that doctors had told him women's bodies prevent them from getting pregnant from "legitimate rape."
The GOP platform calls for a constitutional "human life amendment" that would ban abortion. It also backs legislation to ensure the unborn are protected under the 14th Amendment. Delegates are expected to vote on the entire Republican platform next week during their national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Indeed, the Republican platform is more rigid than Utah law, the position of the party's presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, and that of his Mormon faith.
"It's fairly obvious what we as Republicans feel. We oppose abortion, period," said Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, a member of the Republican Platform Committee, adding that he would have preferred language more in line with state law.
"The exceptions should be there for rape, incest and health of the mother, just like Utah's stance," he said, although no committee members proposed any amendments to the language.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said she is satisfied with the platform's wording.
"I was surprised that [the exceptions] weren't in there. I was aware there were probably the votes to change [the platform] so I don't know if the health committee decided not to do it," she said. "I'm comfortable with what the platform has, but I'm also comfortable with what Utah law allows."
Romney has said abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC on Tuesday that it is not uncommon for the party's nominee to have some differences with the details of the platform.
"This is the platform of the Republican Party," he said, "it is not the platform of Mitt Romney."
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he, too, supports exceptions to prohibitions on abortion.
"I would concur with Governor Romney's position on the issue," said Chaffetz, who has actively campaigned for the former Massachusetts governor during the campaign season.
Karrie Galloway, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Utah, said the abortion language has been in the GOP platform for years, and she has warned that Republicans advocate a hard-line stance on abortion.
"What's happening in the news this week [with Akin] is going to point to the inflexibility of those people who make those laws and make those rules. â¦ Everybody has got to wake up to this," she said. "[In Utah] there is some compassion there. There is some recognition of human beings being part of the equation."
Former state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a GOP convention delegate, said he will vote for the platform without the exceptions and accuses Democrats of "whining" over nothing.
"It's unnecessary for the platform," he said. "It's not meant to be a detailed, intricate catchall. It is meant to be an overall sense ... of the Republican Party and the overall platform of the Republican Party should uphold life for the unborn child."
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz noted Republicans could have stripped out the abortion language, but chose not to.
"In a year that has shown us no shortage of Republican candidates trying to prove themselves more extreme than the other on issues affecting women's health, Republicans have finally hit rock bottom."
In the fallout from the Akin comments, Romney and Utah Republicans joined the calls for him to drop out of the Missouri race. But Akin bucked the pressure and refused to quit before a Tuesday deadline that would have allowed the GOP to replace him on November's ballot.
"Todd Akin may be a sincere man, but what he said was insensitive and wrong," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. "For the good of the people of Missouri and the nation, I urge him to step aside."
Chaffetz said Akin's chances of winning the Missouri seat have plunged.
"The statement is so over-the-top ridiculous it is almost insurmountable," Chaffetz said. "If he is going to do what is best for his state and the nation, I can't imagine him continuing on."
Akin was seen as a favorite to knock off Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the key state, which could help Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for which Hatch is the vice chair, has pulled $5 million in advertising.
Akin has apologized, saying he misspoke, but insists people are overreacting to his comments.
The platform committee also adopted tough immigration provisions, which Dee said he helped negotiate. He also supported striking language that compared trafficking of immigrants to treating people "as if they were cattle."
Dayton said she strongly supported language calling on the Justice Department to drop its lawsuit challenging state immigration laws, including Utah's enforcement statute.
Provisions were also added, at the urging of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has advised Romney on immigration, calling for completion of a border fence, end of in-state tuition for undocumented students, and an end to so-called sanctuary cities.
Dayton said she backed language calling on abstinence-only education in schools and opposing any attempts to revive a Bill Clinton-era assault-weapons ban.