Republican leaders and the Romney-Ryan ticket today rightfully denounced Representative Todd Akin's (R-MO) insulting and inexcusable comments about rape. The Republican National Committee now has an opportunity to make clear that our party also denounces the underlying policy Akin espouses, namely banning abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest and threat to a woman's life.
The Republican National Convention process began today with Platform Committee meetings. This Convention has been dubbed as a "Convention without Walls," designed to kick off "a nationwide discussion on America's future." In a press release issued last week (8/16), Convention CEO William Harris said, "This Convention is about every American's future, and everyone has a stake in it so we created a 'Convention without Walls' to make this the most open and accessible event in history."
We embolden our Republican leaders to take this idea a vital step further -- to not only focus on Convention accessibility, but to make the Republican Party and our platform more accessible and welcoming to Americans.
Decades ago, social extremists within the national party succeeded in adding extreme anti-choice language to the Republican platform. This language, similar to the policy Representative Akin supports, calls for human life amendment to the Constitution without exception. Every four years the heated debate over the Platform rhetoric on social issues resurfaces. Each successive convention extremists push a severe posture on social issues and in doing so further limit the Party's appeal to most Americans. Whether self-described as pro-choice or pro-life, the majority of Republicans and Americans do not subscribe to the Platform's call for the extreme "no exceptions" constitutional amendment. This language persists mainly through the highly politicized processes inherent in the platform's creation and through delegates seeking to instill their personal moral beliefs into party endorsed policy.
It is counterproductive, and indeed insulting, to define those who believe that it is not the role of government to legislate behavior nor to control personal medical decisions and therefore are pro-choice (not "pro-abortion"), as having a lesser moral standing. Further, it is hypocritical for the Party to denounce Representative Akin's abhorrent social positions while simultaneously promoting a Platform that seeks to legitimize the "no exceptions" position.
The platform is an opportunity to introduce our party's true priorities to millions of Americans. It provides a chance to outline the principles and policies that unify Party members. The Republican Majority for Choice and most Republicans accept and respect that there can be heartfelt and differing views on complex social issues. That diversity is a sentiment our Platform should embrace. We are not calling for a platform that solely embraces the pro-choice position as that would not reflect the beliefs of all Republicans anymore than a universal ban on reproductive choices would. However, the vast majority of Republicans can agree that a party should not endorse an extreme policy pushed by irreverent leaders who seek to limit the medical options for victims of rape.
The continued promotion of a severe social agenda marginalizes the Party. It also causes division, places the GOP in an inhuman light and yes, distracts from the issues of great concern to Republicans and Americans: a strong economy, employment opportunities, lower taxes, limited government, individual freedom and a strong national defense.
The current 2012 Republican Platform debate represents an important opportunity for the GOP to reaffirm its status as a broad, inclusive party that espouses and welcomes the diverse viewpoints of its electorate. A move away from polarizing social policy positions will strengthen our Party and our nation, and allow Republicans candidates across the country to address the needs of their districts and the issues that unify the GOP.
In short, the Republican Party must reject the narrow-minded policy of extremists such as Representative Akins and make itself more "open and accessible," beyond its four-day 2012 Convention. The Party can take an important step in that direction by adopting a 2012 platform that reflects the broad and diverse views of the GOP and of Republican candidates across the country.