In GOP, abortion politics moves ever further right

Note: This post contains some material published earlier on this blog. It is posted here as the electronic version of today’s AJC column.

On their July primary ballot, Georgia Republican voters were confronted with a question chock full of political implications. It read:

“Do you support an amendment to the Georgia state constitution so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each human being from the earliest biological beginning until natural death?”

At first glance, it poses two questions: Do you believe that human life begins at the moment of conception — “the earliest biological beginnings” — and do you believe that definition ought to be enshrined in the state constitution? The question was advisory only, but Georgia Right to Life and other pro-life advocates want to put the same question in binding form to voters in the 2014 general election.

Results of the primary gave GRTL just the political leverage it was seeking, with Republican voters backing the notion by an almost 2-1 margin.

The push to define life as beginning with conception is part of the so-called personhood movement, which is pushing Republican politics further and further to the right on the abortion question. If a fertilized egg is defined legally as human life, as the personhood movement insists, then abortion must be banned in almost every case, including cases involving rape and incest. And that’s increasingly the mainstream GOP position on the issue.

Every major candidate for the GOP presidential nomination embraced the so-called personhood position, with the possible exception of Mitt Romney. In the national GOP party platform approved Tuesday, the anti-abortion plank makes no mention of an exception for rape or incest.

Romney’s running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, is a strong supporter of the policy. Given the power to do so, he would ban abortion in almost every instance, including the estimated 30,000 pregnancies a year in this country that result from rape. (The sole exception would be to save the live of the mother.)

That is also the position of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who got in hot water this week for the extremely clumsy, callous way in which he defended barring abortion even in cases of “legitimate rape.” In fact, Akin and Ryan are co-sponsors of a federal version of personhood legislation. The primary sponsor of that bill is U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia; other co-sponsors include Georgia congressmen Phil Gingrey, Lynn Westmoreland and Jack Kingston.

Given the rather rapid shift of opinion within the Republican Party, the position of its presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, becomes critically important. And as on many other issues, Romney’s position varies depending on the time, place and audience. The official position of the one-time pro-choice candidate is that he would continue to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. However, he has also expressed support for the personhood approach and said that he believes life begins at conception.

He has also said that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the question of abortion ought to be left to the states to decide, but in that same statement he said that as president, he would be “delighted” to sign a bill outlawing all abortion nationwide.

In other words, women who would count on the malleable Romney to stand up against more extreme elements of his party are putting much too much confidence in him.

Personally, I do not have an ironclad answer to when human life begins. That question has been answered various ways over the eons by a lot of intelligent people, without consensus. The position of the Catholic Church, for example, has varied widely over time.

As a father of two daughters, as a husband who went through a miscarriage with my wife, as a journalist who watched awestruck as a technician inserted a sperm into an egg in a fertility clinic, I simply don’t know. Even if I thought I knew, I am not arrogant enough to think I have the right to impose my answer on others.

However, I can tell you that while I thought it was a pretty cool to witness in vitro fertilization, I did not come away thinking of that fertilized egg as a human being. When I learned that my wife was pregnant, I did not think of myself as a father at that instant, but as someone who was going to become a father.

Given all that, the compromise inherent in Roe v. Wade seems a reasonable political and legal answer to a tough conundrum, and that compromise is in serious danger of being overturned.

– Jay Bookman

36 comments Add your comment

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

August 22nd, 2012
7:13 am

The GOP: “Our number one focus is jobs, jobs, job-bortions!”

The Republican Taliban has spoken…Please put on your turban….

Jerome Horwitz

August 22nd, 2012
7:23 am

Just another instance of the GOP playing G-d. As George Carlin said – they lost the fetus,but, hate the child.

[...] forwardCTV NewsRep. Akin faces uphill battle after commentsNECNTIME -Palm Beach Post -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 8,697 news articles » This entry was posted in Environmental Earth Destruction. [...]

Li'l Aynie

August 22nd, 2012
7:35 am

Thanks, Jay! You said all that needs to be said about the lunacy of abortion politics.

I anxiously await a rebuttal by Kyle Wingfield, the token right-winger on the AJC staff; he’s been lying low since Akin’s forceful introduction to the GOP platform.

Mike

August 22nd, 2012
7:37 am

I think Jerome means to say Love the Fetus, hate the child. The rapepublicans only carry about it inutero, once born it is just another welfare kid that should be forgotten about.

Thomas Heyward Jr.

August 22nd, 2012
7:42 am

Human life only begins when one throws off his or her’s respective Statist Chains.
.
Ron Paul 2012…(pending no Endorsement of Romney of course).

Mike

August 22nd, 2012
7:45 am

The GOP position: Forced Pregnancy….You get raped, to bad. Incest, to bad. Mother may die, to bad. Baby will have severe healh problems, to bad. Unwanted baby is born and needs economic or healthcare help…..to bad.

independent thinker

August 22nd, 2012
7:58 am

The GOP are just like the ayatollahs of Iran and the Taliban . The GOP are ruled by the extreme religious right and want to be in your bedroom and want everyone heavily armed ready to rise up if the government tries to tell them what to do(especially a black president with a middle name of Hussein)..They also want to give you less rights to vote th!an someone in Iraq or Egypt. Jobs bill or stimulus money -heck no unless of course in their district. Foreign policy -leave it to the Neocons who were responsible for 9-11 and Iraq boondoggle. Quite a platform!

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (aka "Knuckle-Dragger")

August 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

If I remember correctly, Justice Harry Blackmun (a liberal) called Roe v. Wade “the worst piece of jurisprudence he had ever seen”. In it, a right to kill people was created out of nothing. We continue to pay the price, as a nation, for this abomination. As a former pastor said, “It is a judgment in and of itself”.

[...] In GOP, abortion politics moves ever further rightAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The push to define life as beginning with conception is part of the so-called personhood movement, which is pushing Republican politics further and further to the right on the abortion question. If a fertilized egg is defined legally as human life, as …A Politician Whose Faith Is Central to His PersistenceNew York TimesDemocrats seek to tie Akin to House candidatesThe Seattle TimesDave Helling | In politics, there is no black and whiteKansas City StarWashington Post (blog) -Arizona Daily Star -The Atlantic Wire (blog)all 8,851 news articles » [...]

Circular Firing Squad « Kmareka.com

August 22nd, 2012
8:24 am

[...] in crude terms what will most certainly become the official platform of the Republican Party– a personhood amendment that bans terminating a pregnancy from fertilization on, with no exceptions for rape or any other [...]

Fly-On-The-Wall

August 22nd, 2012
8:39 am

Amazing that we are STILL fighting this battle so many years after the Supremes said that a woman has the right to decide for herself.

Next on their list is the Voting Rights Act.

Matti

August 22nd, 2012
8:44 am

AMERICAN women? Their sick fantasies may entail stuffing us back into 19th-century oppression, but the reality they meet will not end the way their fantasies do. AMERICAN women? They’ve met us, right?

mnichols

August 22nd, 2012
8:46 am

A common scenario: A woman loses her baby to a miscarriage. Under a personhood law she potentially could be charged with murder. Just one of the shadow ramifications of this wrongheaded law.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 22nd, 2012
8:59 am

Fine column–for what it’s worth, I wish you’d pointed out (as I am wont to do) that despite decades of prohibitionist propaganda from the right, America remains firmly in favor of Roe v. Wade, based on polling I’ve seen over the years.

http://pollingreport.com/abortion2.htm

fultonrighty

August 22nd, 2012
9:04 am

Abortion is not a gift to any girl/woman. It is an intrusion into her body with strong suction and/or sharp instruments ripping out a tiny living human being. Often it is coerced by men who don’t want to deal with the natural results of their sexual exploitation of the girl/woman, i.e., selfish boyfriends, statutory rapists, incestuous relatives, pimps. Compassion for the girl or woman is part of the Personhood approach–the amendment would be coupled with enabling legislation to protect her and criminalize the abortionist.

Robert Lee

August 22nd, 2012
9:17 am

When all the Pro Lifers start adopting kids then I might beleive that they have childrens best interest in mind. Until then, this is nothing more than people wanting to control others and make everyone behave/beleive exactly the same way they do. Kind of reminds me of some of the Middle Eastern countries……

independent thinker

August 22nd, 2012
9:17 am

On another topic…in 2008, the right wing religious cons were fervently praying for a deluge to wipe out the dems open-air convention. however, hurricane Gustav hit during their convention…Dubya had to leave, and most of their hateful agenda was cancelled…meanwhile the Dem convention was magnificent, and went off without a hitch…God told the cons NO to their hateful prayer…fast forward to today…once again the teabirthers and right wing cons are praying for some kind of tragedy or catastrophy to strike the dem convention…meanwhile hurricane Isaac is bearing dow on southern FL, and is schedled to hit Tampa monday morning?..WHAT DO YOU THINK IT ALL MEANS?
(Also Joe Biden is headed to Tampa with chains in hand (for the women in the audience who even dare to think of an abortion)

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 22nd, 2012
9:48 am

“Abortion is not a gift to any girl/woman”

it’s a helluva lot better than forced pregnancy

Granny Godzilla - Union Thugette

August 22nd, 2012
10:03 am

G Mare

August 22nd, 2012
10:29 am

If I remember correctly, Justice Blackmun came to support Roe v Wade.

TGT

August 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

OPEN WIDE BABY BIRDS! I see Jay is still feeding the 30,000 annual pregnancies as a result of rape nonsense. (I guess the AJC even allowed him to put it into print.)

Even more evidence for this bogus number: The number of abortions performed as a result of rape is 1% or less. (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0904509.html) So of the approximate 1.2 million abortions a year in the U.S., only 12,000 are as a result of rape. According to Jay’s numbers, that means that over 62% of women who become pregnant as a result of rape go ahead and have their child. I guess this means that Planned Parenthood and their lackeys are slacking off!!

Trolls Bane

August 22nd, 2012
11:37 am

There is a key component to the so-called conservative position. It is mainly a religious belief, and it is the belief that there should not be sex without consequences … for example pregnancy and childbirth being one of the consequences.

This “personhood” push would basically outlaw all forms of contraception with the exception of condoms or abstinence.

TGT

August 22nd, 2012
11:44 am

Let me help you understand this libs. You see, the abortion industry and its supporters need the “pregnancy as a result of rape” numbers to be high. That way they can continue to use the evil of rape to justify (the evil of) abortion.

Of course, even if the number of pregnancies as a result of rape were as high as Jay claimed, it still does not justify the killing of a child in the womb. In fact, often an abortion after a rape only makes things worse. With all of today’s technology and information, there is no way to deny that what resides in the womb of a mother is anything other than a live human being.

Ask yourself this libs: If a man rapes a woman who is pregnant and as a result the child in the womb is killed, the rapist will also be charged with murder. However, if a woman becomes pregnant after a rape, it is then okay to kill the child?! One tragedy does not solve another. There are other solutions to the rape/pregnancy situation that does not involve the killing of an innocent child.

fultonrighty

August 22nd, 2012
1:28 pm

@Robert Lee
You are woefully out of touch if you think there are many babies waiting to be adopted! Only about 1% of girls/women in unplanned pregnancy choose adoption, the rest choose abortion or single parenting. There are hundreds of thousands (I have heard 2 million) of couples waiting to adopt domestic babies or toddlers. Thus the thousands who adopt from China, Ethiopia, Romania, Ukraine or any other country that opens up adoption from orphanages.

The big supply of children needing to be adopted are coming out of foster care, sibling groups, older children (up to 18), etc.

Prolifers are the ones who quietly provide real support to women in their unplanned pregnancies with clothing, diapers, parenting training, formula. Planned Parenthood just offers to take their money (and federal and state funding) to “terminate their pregnancies.”

DJ Sniper

August 22nd, 2012
1:58 pm

TGT, let me explain something to you: The decision to have an abortion should be left up to one person: The woman thinking of having one. Not you, not me, not anybody else. If abortion is a decision that you would never make for yourself or anybody in your family, then that’s perfectly fine. What you need to realize is that every woman’s situation is different.

You don’t that every woman who gets pregnant as the result of a rape has the emotional and mental strength to carry out that pregnancy. If she chooses to do that, then fine. If she chooses to abort, then that’s fine as well. The point it, let her make the decision for herself.

If anybody needs proof of how these GOP knuckledraggers are trying to take this country back to the dark ages, read this:

http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/08/22/723241/gop-approves-most-conservative-platform-in-modern-history/

TGT

August 22nd, 2012
4:13 pm

DJ: What you need to realize is that “ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART!” Do you deny that an abortion kills a child?! Abortion is NOT a decision that affects only one life.

DJ Sniper

August 22nd, 2012
4:22 pm

Wow, way to use a propaganda slogan. As I said before, nobody on this blog has any business telling a woman why she should or should not have an abortion. That decision needs to be left up to that woman.

Riddle me this: you have a 15 year old daughter that gets pregnant as the result of a rape. You know she is not emotionally equipped to raise a child that was conceived in such a manner. Are you going to force her to deliver and/or raise that child?

dbm

August 22nd, 2012
5:07 pm

The question is not “When does life begin?”. Even an unfertilized ovum could be said to be alive.

The question is “At what point does an embryo, fetus, or baby acquire rights?”

TGT

August 22nd, 2012
6:45 pm

My daughter is now 6. If a tragedy such as you describe occurred, I can almost guarantee you that she would not choose an abortion.

Again, if someone is not “emotionally equipped” enough to raise a child, there are plenty of options that do not involve killing the child. Also, if someone is not “emotionally equipped” to raise a child, why would they be “emotionally equipped” to kill it?! One of the great lies of the pro-abortion lobby is that there are no consequences to having an abortion. It is a devastating thing to know that one has been responsible for ending a life.

dbm

August 22nd, 2012
9:23 pm

TGT

August 22nd, 2012
6:45 pm

It should still be the woman’s or girl’s choice, not the government’s.

[...] for differences between their personal positions on abortion, just days before a national …In GOP, abortion politics moves ever further rightAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Ryan-Akin, Romney-TrumpThe HillPolitics Gets Simplepride [...]

TGT

August 22nd, 2012
11:00 pm

IT IS NOT SIMPLY A MATTER OF “CHOICE!” A life is being taken!!! What “choice” do the 50% of those who are slaughtered in the womb who happen to be women have?!

Again, you libs really don’t do well in debating an issue when you are on the side of killing children in the womb!!

ld

August 23rd, 2012
1:04 am

You meant “backward”?

Lynphd

August 23rd, 2012
8:54 am

If everyone thought that abortion was okay, then we would not still be having this discussion after almost 40 years. Evidently, more than half of the population thinks that it is killing a human being and no one should have the choice to do that no matter where that human being is located. The truth is that the abortion “survivors” (those under 40) are more pro-life than their parents and grandparents. There will come a time in this country where a baby will be safe in its mother’s womb, again.

[...] In GOP, abortion politics moves ever further rightAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)In fact, Akin and Ryan are co-sponsors of a federal version of personhood legislation. The primary sponsor of that bill is U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia; other co-sponsors include Georgia congressmen Phil Gingrey, Lynn Westmoreland and Jack Kingston.and more » [...]