The 2012 GOP platform features a bold new development in the party's position on abortion: an official endorsement of the medically unsupported claim that fetuses can feel pain before they are viable.

The platform calls for legislation "to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain" and "applaud[s] U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia."

The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, authored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain at that point. Several states, including Nebraska, have passed similar so-called "fetal pain bills."

In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists takes the position that there is no legitimate scientific information that supports the statement that a fetus experiences pain. A 2011 study in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics found no conclusive evidence that fetuses feel pain or are viable at 20 weeks, and a 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fetuses are likely incapable of feeling pain until the third trimester.

The D.C. abortion ban sparked a lively protest at Frank's office and failed to pass in the Republican-controlled House. The fact that the Republican Party is touting it and endorsing the medical claim behind it marks a bold development in the party's official position on abortion.

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  • Abortion Ban With No Rape Exception

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/gop-platform-spoiler-alert-no-exception-rape-incest-abortion-plank" target="_hplink">oppose</a> abortion in all cases with no exceptions for rape or incest. <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120821/us-gop-convention-platform/" target="_hplink">opposes</a> abortion but supports exceptions for rape and incest. <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Obama <a href="http://www.vote-smart.org/npat.php?old=true&can_id=BS030017&npatform_id=69#0" target="_hplink">supports</a> the Democratic Party platform, which states that abortions should be legally available in accordance with Roe v. Wade.

  • Expanding Individual Right To Self-Defense

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/gop-platform-spoiler-alert-no-exception-rape-incest-abortion-plank" target="_hplink">support</a> federal legislation that would expand the "fundamental right to self-defense." <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.mittromney.com/issues/gun-rights" target="_hplink">does not believe</a> the country "needs additional laws that restrict the Second Amendment." <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/22/barack-obama-gun-control_n_1693650.html" target="_hplink">believes</a> the federal government should work to prevent gun violence under "existing law."

  • Undocumented Immigrants Don't Count

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/gop-platform-spoiler-alert-no-exception-rape-incest-abortion-plank" target="_hplink">supports</a> "changing the way that the decennial census is conducted, so that citizens are distinguished from lawfully present aliens and illegal aliens." This GOP plank assures that undocumented workers are not counted when tallying the national population. <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.mittromney.com/issues/immigration" target="_hplink">wants</a> to increase legal immigration to the United States as a way of strengthening the domestic economy. <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/obama-immigration-order-deportation-dream-act_n_1599658.html" target="_hplink">supports</a> the creation of a "pathway to citizenship" for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

  • No Taxes Increases Unless War, National Emergencies

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/gop-platform-spoiler-alert-no-exception-rape-incest-abortion-plank" target="_hplink">support</a> a constitutional amendment calling for a super-majority -- 60 votes in the Senate -- for any tax increase, unless in cases of war or national tragedy. <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.mittromney.com/issues/tax" target="_hplink">wants</a> to cut the marginal tax rate by 20 percent to "stimulate entrepreneurship, job creation, and investment." <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Obama has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/02/obama-quotes_n_916304.html?just_reloaded=1" target="_hplink">repeatedly called for</a> a "balanced approach" -- a mixture of spending cuts and tax increases -- in dealing with the nation's fiscal crises.

  • Marriage Only Between Man, Woman

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/gop-platform-spoiler-alert-no-exception-rape-incest-abortion-plank" target="_hplink">support</a> the traditional definition of marriage as the "union of one man and one woman." <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.mittromney.com/issues/values" target="_hplink">wants</a> to "preserve traditional marriage - the joining together of one man and one woman." <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/obama-gay-marriage_n_1503245.html" target="_hplink">supports</a> same-sex marriage.

  • Gold Standard Commission

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-24/reviving-gold-standard-studied-in-republican-platform.html" target="_hplink">support</a> the creation of a commission to explore whether the United States should return to the gold standard. <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-24/reviving-gold-standard-studied-in-republican-platform.html" target="_hplink">has expressed</a> skepticism that Congress would not meddle with the gold standard were it to be implemented. <strong>Obama's position</strong>: Obama has not specifically commented on the gold standard.

  • Medicare Voucher System

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79953.html" target="_hplink">support</a> a voucher-like system that provides future seniors with a fixed amount of money to spend on health insurance. <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79622.html" target="_hplink">has said</a> he's "very supportive of the Ryan budget plan," which proposes turning Medicare into the voucher-like system advocated for in this year's Republican platform draft. <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Obama wants to <a href="http://medicarenewsgroup.com/news/medicare-faqs/individual-faq?faqId=e7642be4-317f-490e-8dd0-43455d3a674a" target="_hplink">mostly keep</a> Medicare the way it is. He believes Medicare could be reformed by making tweaks to its current pay system and reducing fraud and waste within the program.

  • No Women In Combat

    <strong>What the 2012 Republican platform draft says:</strong> Republicans <a href="http://www.humanevents.com/2012/08/21/new-republican-platform-excludes-women-from-the-front-lines/" target="_hplink">support</a> "women's exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions." <strong>Romney's position:</strong> Romney <a href="http://www.aclulibertywatch.org/candidates/mitt-romney" target="_hplink">has said</a> he believes women have the "capacity to serve in our military in positions of significance and responsibility." <strong>Obama's position:</strong> Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/09/nation/la-na-pentagon-women-20120209" target="_hplink">has loosened</a> limits on women in combat.