Soledad O’Brien grills RNC official for not including rape exception in platform

By David Edwards
Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:18 EDT
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RNC communication director Sean Spicer speaks to CNN
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The Republican Party’s communications director is explaining the abortion ban in his party’s platform by saying it doesn’t include an exception for rape — but it also doesn’t NOT include an exception.

RNC communication director Sean Spicer worked hard not to pinned down on Thursday as he found himself in the uncomfortable spot on of being grilled by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien because his party’s official platform had called to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape.

Following outrage over anti-abortion Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) assertion this week that victims of “legitimate rape” could not get pregnant, the Republican National Committee drafted an official platform that called for “a human life amendment” to the Constitution that would not allow abortion even in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.

“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,” the draft said. “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.”

Although presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that he backs a “personhood amendment” to define a fertilize egg as a person and ban abortion in all circumstances, he responded to fallout from Akin’s remarks by saying he “would not oppose” an exception for rape.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, however, believes that abortion should be illegal in all cases, and has said that he is only comfortable with Romney’s position because it is a “good step in the right direction.”

Because Romney has embraced the doctor that authored Akin’s “legitimate rape” theory and Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Akin that would have redefined rape as “forcible rape,” Democrats have released an ad linking everything together as the “Romney-Ryan-Aiken Platform for Women.”

During a Thursday interview, O’Brien pressed the RNC communications director about what Ryan meant when he said that Romney’s anti-abortion commitment was “a good step in the right direction” even though it includes an exception for rape.

“The Republican Party is a pro-life party,” Spicer explained. “Our platform is just a simple set of principles which say — 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.”

“That platform is more specific than you’re making it sound,” O’Brien observed.

“No, it’s not,” Spicer shot back.

“It is, though, really,” O’Brien replied, pointing out that Republicans had proposed HR-212, a bill which states that “human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.”

“It’s the same language that we’ve had in there since 1984, no difference,” Spicer said. “So somehow, again, this is news to anyone is amazing. And it states a general principle that we believe in the concept of life. Then within that, there are different people within our party say, ‘Well, okay, I support that, but I believe there should be an exception for this or that.’”

“What Mitt Romney believes is that there should be an exception for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Paul Ryan has said that he believes slightly that he is more — or does not necessarily believe in all of those exceptions, but as the number two he is signing onto the number one’s ticket,” Spicer continued, spinning the fact the Ryan actually believes in no exceptions at all.

“So, to try to read into it and say this means this and — as you just did — attach a specific piece of legislation, is not what the platform says.”

“We’ll agree to disagree on that,” O’Brien concluded.

Watch this video from CNN’s Starting Pount, broadcast Aug. 23, 2012.

(h/t: Talking Points Memo)

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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