As the GOP prepares for their national convention next week in Tampa, here in Kansas City there have been various “remember when the GOP convention met here?” articles and stories in the media. I wasn’t in Kansas City in 1976, but it’s amazing how things have changed.
Consider this, from back in the day . . .
The question of abortion is one of the most difficult and controversial of our time. It is undoubtedly a moral and personal issue but it also involves complex questions relating to medical science and criminal justice. There are those in our Party who favor complete support for the Supreme Court decision which permits abortion on demand. There are others who share sincere convictions that the Supreme Court’s decision must be changed by a constitutional amendment prohibiting all abortions. Others have yet to take a position, or they have assumed a stance somewhere in between polar positions.
That was then, where the 1976 edition of the GOP platform was rather openended about Roe v Wade and the issue of abortion. It was under the heading “Women,” and highlighted the fact that it was a personal decision. Different folks may come to different conclusions about it, but the platform did not demand conformity to one official GOP answer.
Fast forward from KC to Tampa, and here’s what the platform committee is proposing be adopted:
THE SANCTITY AND DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE 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. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion, permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by exacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties to health care providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives and abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions – gender discrimination in its most lethal form – and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a revision of federal law 42 U.S.C. 289.92 to bar the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
We also salute the many states that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health protective clinic regulation. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose live, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.
No longer is there room for diversity of opinion. There is but One Right Answer, period. Don’t like it? Tough. But it gets worse . . .
No longer is the heading “Women.” They don’t seem to matter when it comes to abortion. No longer are women seen as people capable of making “moral and personal” decisions about a “complex issue.” No longer will the GOP respect those who choose anything other than the One Right Answer, the most extreme anti-choice position. Instead, the GOP salutes those who counsel women, taking care of them and paternalistically leading them to the One Right Answer.
Notes James Hohmann of Politico, this is not new.
Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, a delegate from Missouri, is proud that there’s been no serious push to expand abortion rights in the platform for several years. The 2012 draft includes support for a Human Life amendment — which would give constitutional protections to the unborn — just as the past three did. “It’s not a controversy anymore,” Schlafly said. “We’ve won that battle.”
Indeed you have, Phyllis. Indeed you have.
Back in 1976, the GOP platform pushed for the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. Today in 2012, the platform pushes for a human life amendment: “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” Note the punctuation mark: a period. Not a comma or a semicolon, but a period. End of story.
Marsha Blackburn, the person who drafted the abortion language above, insists that she believes in exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. But the platform she helped draft does not allow for any exceptions at all. If something is a fundamental right, there can be no exceptions. It matters not whether the man and woman are lifetime partners or hooked up for a night. It matters not whether the union was an act of love and mutuality or force and power and violence and domination. It matters not whether the woman is healthy and able to carry the pregnancy, or ill and incapable. It matters not whether the woman is immature (physically, emotionally, or both), at the peak of life, or approaching old age. It matters not what the structure of the family is that will care for (or not) the child if and when it is born. It matters not whether the egg met sperm through the intimate union of two sweaty bodies or via sterile manipulations in a petri dish. All that matters, ALL that matters, according to the language of the GOP platform, is that the sperm met the egg, and that egg+sperm has to be protected no matter what.
Back in 1976, Jack Danforth was Missouri’s attorney general and running for the US Senate. Today in 2012, he condemns Todd Akin, who is the GOP candidate for the same US senate seat that Danforth used to hold. As much as Danforth, Romney, and others might not like it, Akin is no exception to the GOP. He is the proud embodiment of its extreme positions, and the inevitable result of a generation of increasingly intolerant religiosity that has taken over the GOP.
In 2006, Danforth could see this coming, as could Richard Land of the GOPs religious right:
“The Republican Party has been taken over by something that it’s not,” Danforth says over a suitably austere lunch of steamed vegetables in a well-appointed 40th-floor St. Louis club overlooking the Mississippi. “How do traditional Republicans put up with this? They put up with this because it’s a winning combination, for now. It won’t last.”
Why won’t it last?
“It won’t stand the light of day,” Danforth says in one of several conversations. “The more people think about it, the more people will resist it. People do not want a sectarian political party, including a lot of people who are traditional Republicans.”
Richard Land gets a big laugh out of that.
The combative voice of the Southern Baptist Convention and confidant of White House political guru Karl Rove has little use for Danforth, however grand his religious and political pedigrees. He describes the former senator as “what was wrong with the Republican Party and why they were a minority party.”
“Votes reflect moral values. The struggle for hearts and minds gets reflected in the ballot box,” Land says, setting up the twist of the knife. “It just sounds to me like Danforth’s sore that he lost the argument with a majority of the American people.”
Land’s right that Danforth lost the battle for the GOP. But given the reaction of the public to Todd “I am the GOP Platform” Akin, Danforth may be proved right about the ability of Land’s victory to endure.
For the sake of the female half of the nation, and the men who love them, I sure hope so.
image h/t to Mike Licht