Marsha Blackburn Tries To Backtrack On GOP's Extreme Anti-Abortion Platform


From this Tuesday evening's Out Front with Erin Burnett, Rep. Marsha Blackburn did her best to attempt to backtrack on the Republican Party's extreme views on abortion in the wake of the Todd Akin dust up and their presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney along with the rest of the Republican establishment throwing him under the bus. The one problem for Republicans is they just passed an extreme right wing party platform in the run up to their convention this year, and Blackburn had a lot of trouble defending what she just voted on here.

Keep in mind this is the same woman who was a co-sponsor of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" which as Nick Baumann at Mother Jones wrote about here, would have redefined rape and that language was only withdrawn after plenty of public outrage over what the House Republicans had passed.

And Blackburn just came from voting for, once again, the Republicans including a "Human Life Amendment" as part of their party's platform before doing this interview which you can read a bit about here. Blackburn tried to pretend that the states could make provisions for the life of a mother when questioned by Burnett about the platform, but from my reading, I don't see anything that allows the states to do anything but make the law more restrictive, and not the other way around.

So it would appear to me that Blackburn is lying here when she pretends that Republicans do not want to ban all abortions with no regard for the life of the mother, or for rape or incest and that Burnett allowed her to get away with some massive hypocrisy when pretending she's not on exactly the same page as Todd Akin, who they're trying to drum out of the race because he dared to tell the truth about what these people actually believe and unfortunately for them, the national media is paying attention. And because, more importantly to them, that exposure might cost them a senate seat and worse. They're really not enjoying the sunshine on their extremism. I say it's long, long overdue.

Transcript below the fold and if I'm missing something on this "Human Life Amendment" and whether it would allow the states to make provisions to protect a women not allowed at the federal level as Blackburn tried to assert here, someone please let me know, but I'm not seeing it in any of the material I've read on it.

BURNETT: A message pretty clear from a host of Republicans, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Todd Akin, but meanwhile in some rather awkward timing, it is time to discuss the party platform, after all it is convention time, and in Tampa where the convention begins in just six days the party platform today took shape. There were hours and hours of meetings and the committee made some decisions.

Since 1984, Republicans have voted to include in this platform a constitutional ban on abortion. It is called a human life amendment, and there is no language allowing for exemptions in cases of rape or incest. Now this is not something that Mitt Romney, the presumptive boss of the party says he agrees with, and in fact, he has been very clear on this in the past couple of days not hedging at all.

His statement yesterday on abortion in the wake of the Akin scandal could not be clearer. Quote "A Romney/Ryan administration would not oppose abortions in instances of rape." And other Republicans disagree with the platform as well. Four years ago the party nominee, John McCain, tried to change the language of the Republican Party platform to specifically include exceptions for rape and incest, and today, Republican Senator Scott Brown sent a letter to the chair of the Republican Party saying "I believe this is a mistake because it fails to recognize the views of pro choice Republicans like myself".

But the language remained unchanged in the party platform today. But, Scott Brown has an interesting point, because when you look at the numbers, it shows this issue is important. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans and 75 percent of the Independents, so I'm not even looking at Democrats here, these are Republicans and Independents who could vote for Mitt Romney. They think abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, and 59 percent of people who say they are pro life feel this way, too.

OUTFRONT tonight, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, she is co-chair of the Platform Committee. She voted for that language to remain the same today. I spoke with her just a couple of moments ago and started by asking her about those poll numbers.


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Erin, you are going to find that there are -- the Republican Party is going to support a culture of life, and that is what is reflected in the platform. Now, you mentioned the issue of the exemptions and I would just say that the platform is silent on that, and basically, because of federalism, sends this issue back to the states.

BURNETT: All right, so let me just read you the words. These are the words that you know everyone has been saying have been in the Republican platform now since 1980. It says that --

BLACKBURN: That is right.

BURNETT: That you assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all 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. If you got that amendment, you say that the unborn child has a right to life that cannot be infringed, how does that allow for anyone to in any state to allow an exemption in the case of rape or incest?

BLACKBURN: Well and we continue to support a federal life amendment. At this point in time as you know the issue is directed back to the states. Now, under the Republican umbrella, and under the umbrella of life, you're going to find that many of us that have the position with Governor Romney that you allow those exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother, and then you're going to find others that have other opinions. On whole, you're going to see that Republicans support a culture of life. They have and I think you will see them continue to support this.

BURNETT: I mean, I think you are making it very clear, but I am also interested when you said many of us, you know, and obviously this is an interesting question to ask to a woman and it is different in many ways than asking it to a man, but that you, yourself as chairwoman of this party platform support the sanctity of life, but also support those key exemptions of rape or incest?

BLACKBURN: Yes. You're going to find individuals that are going to have different opinions within the pro-life community, and I think that is great. And I think within our party that it is a very good thing that we have this, but reminding you whether it is prenatal or whether it is the end of life, Republicans support a culture of life. We have always done that, and you are going to the see us continue to come down on the side of life.

BURNETT: I mean, you know, and it's interesting, because I know there is so much politics in this, but it would seem all humans support a culture of life and the sanctity of life. It's how you define it and who can make the choices where all of the controversy occurs and that brings me to Todd Akin. You heard him say that he thinks many in his own party have overreacted. Do you think people have overreacted to his words and what he says?

BLACKBURN: I don't. I find his words disturbing and I was very concerned when I was made aware yesterday of those statements. You know, it is an indefensible comment.

BURNETT: And do you think he should step aside? I mean are you disappointed that he did not?

BLACKBURN: I'm deeply disappointed in the comments, and I think that this type insensitivity that I would have liked to have seen him move aside and then move forward with someone in the race so that we can put the attention back on the issue that the American people are talking about, and you have talked about our platform here in Tampa. You know most of the platform is about jobs and the economy. That is what the American people are talking about. That's where they want our focus, and that's what you are going to see when we give you that platform at 2:00 on Monday. That's exactly what you are going to find in that document.

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