By Bob Cesca: The Republican Party is assembling its platform in preparation for the big convention starting next week. With horrendous timing, the party issued the following plank regarding abortion, via CNN:
“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,” the draft platform declares. “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.”
I should note here that there’s nothing legally binding about the Declaration and, by the way, the founders only mentioned “all men” as being equal. Women couldn’t own land or vote. Neither could any people of color. Surely there wasn’t any intention in the document to include zygotes as possessing the self-evident truths of equality and unalienable rights. Seriously, the Republicans are ostensibly strict constructionists when it comes to the founding documents and so they see no room for modern interpretation or redefinition of the Declaration or Constitution — except when it comes to this and the unregulated marketing of assault rifles.
Either way, this is the Republican Party position. This is Todd Akin’s position, too. A constitutional amendment that protects a zygote, an embryo and a fetus as a sentient human life, and so, subsequently, the deliberate “murder” of that life must constitute homicide, punishable by law. No exceptions. Not one. In other words, if a woman has an abortion (ostensibly an illegal one if the Republicans have their way) she would be an accomplice in a premeditated murder, along with the abortion doctor and anyone assisting in the procedure.
Throughout the day yesterday, I heard various Republican pundits who insisted that this is the position of the party and not necessarily Mitt Romney’s position on the abortion issue. And you know what? I might agree with that. I agree with the notion that Romney doesn’t necessarily support criminalizing abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. But this is a candidate whose only consistent position is his support for gingham dress shirts. Furthermore, just because he might not agree with the most extreme anti-abortion position in existence doesn’t mean his position isn’t tied closely to the Republican plank. After all, win or lose, Romney is the leader of the Republican Party and if he’s unable to control or, at least, moderate the extremism of the party on this issue, what kind of leader does that make him?
Oh but wait. Rewind to October:
HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?
But let’s say for argument sake that his position has changed since, you know, October. What’s to say he won’t change his mind again tomorrow? If the flip-flop fits…
By the way, have I mentioned this plank is the exact position held by Paul Ryan? It is. And how do we know this? Paul Ryan co-sponsored a constitutional amendment with Todd Akin that’s exactly the same thing. Here’s what the Sanctity of Human Life Act said:
(A) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; and
(B) the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood;
The constitutional amendment was also careful to define “fertilization”:
The term ‘fertilization’ means the process of a human spermatozoan penetrating the cell membrane of a human oocyte to create a human zygote, a one-celled human embryo, which is a new unique human being.
So what happens if the woman’s body rejects that fertilized egg and it doesn’t implant along the wall of the uterus, or what if there’s a miscarriage anywhere along the line? Is that involuntary manslaughter? What about sperm and ovum alone? Are they half of a life and therefore should receive half the rights of a fully birthed citizen? What happens if this “life” attaches to the inside of the fallopian tube and begins to kill the mother as it grows? Isn’t this new life now killing another life, and should the fetus be arrested for involuntary manslaughter? The fact is that pregnancy and reproduction, especially since it takes place inside of women, is almost too complicated to define with such simplistic, ignorant, narrow language — certainly too complicated for a party that thinks the world began 4,000 years ago and that a snow storm in Washington, DC means there’s no such thing as global climate change.
Ultimately, there are so many dark and dangerous aspects of this law which Romney’s second-in-command (and Akin) endorsed that it’s difficult to imagine any sort of “inalienable” and “equal” rights for women should this amendment ever become ratified.
But it doesn’t need to be ratified. The Republicans have been tenaciously rolling back reproductive rights at the state level (including government-sanctioned rape with a transvaginal ultrasound probe) and, if Romney wins in November, he will absolutely appoint Supreme Court justices who will support anti-choice legislation for another generation or more while also potentially reversing the Roe decision. Additionally, Romney is quite likely to sign anti-choice legislation at the federal level.
The bottom line here is that there’s very little if any difference between Todd Akin’s position, regardless of his botched word usage in which he swapped “forcible” for “legitimate,” and the Republican Party platform, not to mention the would-be Romney administration’s agenda on abortion. The circles in this Venn diagram would practically appear as one awful circle.
This begs the question: with conservatives from Romney to Palin to Limbaugh calling for Akin to step aside, what exactly are they objecting to other than the policy that’s been codified in the Republican Party platform?