How many exemptions can dance on the head of a pin?


When crafting its national platform, Republican Party officials had a decision to make on abortion: would the GOP support exemptions for those impregnated by rape or incest? In keeping with the last several party platforms, Republicans decided against exemptions.

But wait, Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, says. Maybe there are exemptions, on a theoretical level, if you tilt your head and close one eye (via Pema Levy).

“The Republican Party is a pro- life party. Our platform is just a simple set of principles which say that the problem with the ad that you played is the Democrats are trying to take a simple set of principles, which is the Republican Party’s pro-life. There is no additional language, so to talk about exceptions or whatever is not found in the platform.”

Got that? According to the RNC’s own communications director, the Republican platform is just a set of principles. These principles oppose women’s reproductive rights, the argument goes, but it doesn’t explicitly say there can’t be exemptions, so who knows? Maybe there will be exemptions!

Except the RNC’s communications director is reflecting on his party’s platform without having read it. The document calls for a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution that would ban all abortions.

As a New York Times editorial noted yesterday, the proposed constitutional language “would erase any right women have to make decisions about their health and their bodies. There are no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and such laws could threaten even birth control.”

Spicer is trying to play a little game here – Republicans aren’t explicitly saying “no exemptions,” so we’re supposed to believe GOP officials will only take away the reproductive rights of most American women, not all. But this is a farce.

The platform calls for an anti-abortion constitutional amendment; Paul Ryan opposes any exceptions to a ban on all abortions; and Mitt Romney has not only expressed support for a “Personhood” measure, but has also said he’d be “delighted” to sign a bill that would no longer allow abortions “at all, period.”

It’s against this backdrop that the RNC’s communications director wants to play a semantics game?

Please. I realize Todd Akin has thrown Republicans off-balance, but the party has to take a side. Either the government should force women to take their pregnancy to term if they are impregnated by a rapist or not. As of this week, the party has taken a side, and there’s no point in Sean Spicer pretending otherwise.

Reproductive Rights

How many exemptions can dance on the head of a pin?