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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Democratic Abortion Extreme: Unrestricted Abortion Without Exceptions

            Comments this week have put the issue of abortion at the forefront of our national dialogue and have led some people to decry the Republican Party Platform by erroneously stating that it would ban abortion even in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy or in the cases of rape and incest. 

            Earlier this week, the Republican platform committee met and endorsed the adoption of a Human Life Amendment to protect unborn children and reverse Roe v. Wade.  The platform endorses the principle of a Human Life Amendment, but does not support a particular version of the various Human Life Amendments that have been put forward over the years, some which have included exceptions for the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest.  Additionally, the platform support of reversing Roe v. Wade would simply return the decision to the states – where it was prior to 1973. 

            In 2005, the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, issued a report that showed rape and incest abortions account for 1% of all abortions. Another indicator of the small number of rape/incest abortions annually compared to the 1.2 million annual abortions is a look at the current Medicaid expenditures under the federal Hyde Amendment, which pays only for abortions for life of the mother and for rape and incest. Between FY1994 and FY2007, those types of abortions have ranged between 112-458.  To put these numbers in perspective, there were 33 million Medicaid recipients in 1995 and 50 million today.

            Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, supports a rape and incest exception for laws that generally protect unborn children. Romney’s position is the same as that of former President George W. Bush, who signed into law the ban on Partial Birth Abortions and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

            In spite of this fact, individuals are unfairly attacking the Republican Party Platform as extreme while ignoring the fact that President Obama and the majority of Democrats in the Congress support abortion-on-demand, even for sex-selection, and even of unborn babies that are capable of feeling pain.

            A solid majority of House Democrats voted on July 31, 2012, against the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803) which would have banned abortions at 20 weeks and beyond based on scientific evidence that unborn children at this stage are capable of feeling pain.  According to recent poll by The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend, respondents favored, by a 3-to-1 margin (63-21%), a policy of not permitting abortion anywhere “after the point where substantial medical evidence says that the unborn child can feel pain,” unless it is “necessary to save a mother’s life.”  In the poll, women said “should not be permitted” by a margin of 70-18% percent, while men had the same response by a margin of 55-25%.

            Earlier this year, the U.S. House held votes on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) that would have banned sex selection abortions.  President Obama and a majority of Democrats opposed the legislation. On the eve of the vote, the White House released a statement by President Obama opposing the bill saying, “The government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way.”  A May 2012 poll found that 77% of the public (80% of women, 74% of men) favor banning the use of abortion for sex selection.

            Closer to home, as Charlotte prepares to host the Democratic convention, we find that the Democratic Platform supports abortion-on-demand for any reason – no exceptions, not even for unborn children who can feel pain or who may fall victim to sex-selection.  It is obvious that it is not the Republican platform but the Democratic Platform that holds the extreme position on abortion – a position that continues to be far outside the mainstream of public opinion.

(This Op Ed by Barbara Holt ran in the Charlotte Observer in advance of the DNC holding their convention in Chalotte.)