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Linda Lingle, Hawaii GOP Senate Candidate, Criticizes Anti-Abortion Plank In GOP Platform

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LINDA LINGLE
Linda Lingle is running for U.S. Senate in Hawaii against Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) | AP

WASHINGTON -- The Republican Party's socially conservative platform is already causing heartburn for some candidates -- and it hasn't even been officially approved by the full delegation.

The draft of this year's GOP platform calls for a constitutional amendment banning access to abortion, making no exceptions for women who have been victims of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.

While popular with many members of the party, it's not the message that some GOP candidates, particularly those running in blue states, want to be tied to.

Hawaii GOP Senate candidate Linda Lingle sent an email to her supporters on Friday, expressing her disappointment with the GOP platform.

Lingle said she sent a letter to GOP leaders -- including Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus and platform committee chair Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell -- urging the party to embrace the fact that some of its members support abortion rights.

“This platform plank as drafted fails to recognize the views of pro-choice Republicans like myself," she wrote. "Throughout my years of public service, I have listened with great interest to both sides of this issue. The positions taken were argued with equivalent passion and commitment. But I have always been an ardent supporter of women’s rights, including a woman's right to choose, and I do not stand alone in this opinion."

On Tuesday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) similarly sent a letter to Priebus, saying the platform "fails to recognize the views of pro-choice Republicans like myself."

Both Brown and Lingle are running in blue states against opponents -- Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), respectively -- who are favorites of the progressive and pro-abortion rights communities. And while many Republicans around the country are running as far to the right of President Obama as they can, Brown and Lingle are attempting to do the opposite in order to win over independents and even some Democrats.

In her message to supporters, Lingle said she believes a woman has "an unequivocal right to choose what is best for her health, including her reproductive rights." She added that all legislation on abortion, family planning and contraception "must be met with equal respect for religious institutions that may object to these services."

"While I respect differing points of views, and find strength in debate between our members, for the Party as a whole to adopt an overarching platform plank such as this would be divisive and serve as fuel for the inflamed, partisan political atmosphere that has gone on too long all across the country," Lingle added in her letter.

As ThinkProgress has pointed out, when Lingle was governor of Hawaii, she vetoed a bill that would have required hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who wanted it, saying it would violate the rights of hospitals with religious objections. Her decision was criticized by many women's rights advocates.

"Rape is a crime of violence," the CEO of Planned Parenthood Hawaii wrote to the Honolulu Advertiser at the time. "These women did not ask to have sex, they were forced to -- and for the governor to force them to become pregnant by withholding emergency contraceptives is callous and appalling."

In the same session, however, Lingle did sign into law a bill that allowed all pharmacists in the state to dispense emergency contraception without prescriptions, giving women greater access to the medication.

"With this Act, Governor Lingle retained her commitment to women's issues, allowing even more women access while still respecting the rights of religious institutions," said Corrie Heck, Lingle's deputy communications director, in an email to The Huffington Post. "There is no question that Gov. Lingle fully recognizes the importance of sexual assault victims obtaining immediate medical care and has also championed tougher laws against those who commit sex crimes."

In March, Lingle came out against the so-called Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover any kind of health care service by citing "moral reasons." She still, however, held a fundraiser with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) around that time in Washington, D.C.

As The Huffington Post's Laura Bassett recently reported, pro-abortion rights Republicans say they increasingly feel like an "endangered species" in a party that, at one time, embraced Planned Parenthood and family planning options.

Lingle's full letter:



This story has been updated with more information about Lingle's time as governor.

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