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Democrats draw criticism for platform supporting abortion without exceptions

 

Republicans took a lot of heat for their official platform on abortion, which opposed the procedure without including exceptions for cases of rape, incest or life of the mother. 

But Democrats are now drawing criticism for their own no-exceptions policy. 

The official Democratic platform, which was adopted Tuesday, supports a woman's "right" to an abortion in virtually any case. The language in the platform does not include exceptions for partial-birth abortions or other kinds of late-term abortions, nor does it say taxpayer money should not be dedicated for the procedure. 

Here is the official language, posted on the Democratic Party website: 

"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman's decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs." 

The language was interpreted by conservative critics as an endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortion -- particularly the line about "regardless of ability to pay." And anti-abortion advocates noted that the platform did not mention any exceptions for partial-birth abortion (which is illegal in most cases) or sex-selective abortions -- or include language that was included in the past that stated abortion should be "rare." 

Former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of government relations at the Susan B. Anthony List, said the platform indicates pro-life Democrats have "been left behind" by their party. 

"Bill Clinton Democrats talked about wanting to make abortion rare. ... Well those days are gone, they don't talk about that anymore," she said. "This party is full-bore on abortion for any reason at any time." 

The Susan B. Anthony List has also launched a TV and Web ad featuring a woman who survived an attempted abortion -- she accuses the president of repeatedly voting to deny constitutional protections to abortion survivors. 

Anti-abortion activists have ripped Democrats for the tone of their convention in Charlotte. The speaking program Tuesday features Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League - Pro-Choice America (NARAL). 

Lila Rose, president of the anti-abortion group LiveAction, dubbed the convention "abortion-palooza" in a memo Tuesday. 

"The contemporary Democratic Party has positioned itself as extremists on abortion -- anywhere, for any reason -- paid for by taxpayers," she wrote. 

Democrats have likewise labeled Republicans "extreme" for their positions on abortion. Though Mitt Romney has said he personally supports exceptions in cases of rape and risk to the life of the mother, the party platform did not spell out such exceptions, nor does Romney's campaign Web site.

Here's what the GOP platform said: "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 platform went on to say Republicans "oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage." And it said GOP leaders have "led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted states to extend health care coverage to children before birth. " 

After that platform was released, the Democratic National Committee claimed Republicans want to "ban all abortions, with no exception for victims of rape and incest."