The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 26, 2012

Susan Redden: GOP views on abortion reflected in party platform

JOPLIN, Mo. — Many Republicans are working to distance themselves from U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s comments last week while Democrats work just as hard to make sure voters don’t forget them between now and the November election.

Akin caused a furor when, in a St. Louis television interview, he said women who are victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. The candidate later apologized, saying his words were poorly chosen and based on bad information. But the remark caused some groups to withdraw funding, and brought calls from Mitt Romney and other Republican leaders asking Akin to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race against Claire McCaskill.

Democrats see an opening because Akin is challenging an incumbent who is seen as vulnerable by Republicans looking for a majority in the Senate. They also are looking to link Akin to Paul Ryan, Romney’s recently selected vice presidential running mate, because the two congressmen have worked together on legislation, including measures aimed at restricting abortion.

Ryan in recent interviews has maintained his strict anti-abortion views, but he also has said the stance of the Romney-Ryan campaign is the one espoused by Romney, who has said he supports exceptions to a ban on abortion in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk.

But there are no exceptions in the party platform expected to be adopted at the Republican National Convention this week. The plank maintains that all abortions should be banned and calls for a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Conservative GOP activist Phyllis Schlafly is a Missouri delegate on the platform committee. A staunch Akin supporter, she is the founder of the conservative Eagle Forum and was among the leaders of the effort, years ago, to defeat passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Ironically, Missouri’s other representative on the platform panel is former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, one of the group of current and former Republican senators from Missouri who called on Akin to get out of the race last week.

Joplin area delegates to the convention include John Putnam and Nick Myers, chairmen of the Republican Central Committees in Jasper and Newton counties, respectively; Holly Snow, of Carthage; and state Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

Snow, in packing for the event last week, said she was dismayed to learn that umbrellas were among a long list of items not allowed in the convention hall. Heavy rains and flooding are predicted with Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to develop into a hurricane.

In addition to officially naming Romney as the GOP presidential nominee, convention delegates will be entertained by performers including 3 Doors Down, the Oak Ridge Boys and Taylor Hicks. The nearly 4,400 delegates and alternates also may be able to rub elbows with some Olympians because the convention will include a program on Romney’s role in overseeing the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Besides Romney and Ryan, featured speakers are to include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida; U.S. Sen. John McCain, of Arizona; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S.; and Ann Romney, wife of the presidential nominee .

Those who want to keep up on activities of both parties won’t have long to wait. The Democratic National Convention starts Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.

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