Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dennis Byrne misses the point on Republicans and abortion

Posted By on 08.28.12 at 01:16 PM

  • James Currie/Wikimedia Commons
Dennis Byrne sets the record straight in his op-ed column in Tuesday's Tribune.

"Democrats and a torrent of commentators, here and elsewhere," he writes, "now are using [Todd] Akin to promote the canard that mainstream Republicans agree with Akin's view that all abortions, even those in cases of rape and incest or to save the mother's life, must be banned."

Akin, Byrne reminds us, is the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri who "moronically said rape victims can will away a rape-conceived pregnancy."

Mainstream Republicans don't agree, says Byrne. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, "only 22 percent of Republicans say an abortion should be illegal in all cases." The rest disagree with Akin.

It's a telling statistic that allows us to marvel at Byrne's ability to miss the forest for the trees. The 22 percent include the Republicans' presumptive vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, and the authors of the abortion plank in the Republican platform. The plank reads:

Faithful to the "self-evident" truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.

Let's leave Akin out of it. Given what Ryan says, and what the party platform says, and the lack of any reason to believe Mitt Romney would nominate Supreme Court justices who disagree, what difference should it make to an independent or Democratic voter what the majority of Republicans think? It's not their party; they just vote for it.

Rather than confront the considerable evidence that the GOP has been taken over by an extremist minority, Byrne saves that label for "left-wing extremists." What right-wing extremists forbid, left-wing extremists permit—and Byrne sees no difference. "Will Barack Obama and Joe Biden disavow the extremist position of unrestricted abortions?" Byrne wonders. "Not a chance. Yet, Democrats will escape being labeled extremists."

Here, for the curious, is the Democrats' 2008 abortion plank:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

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