Top Republican: GOP platform doesn't bar rape, incest exemptions on abortion

Bopp is a longtime GOP power player who co-authored the party's original language on abortion in 1980. That language has been included without alteration in the party's official platform in every subsequent election. But Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) controversial remarks last weekend about "legitimate rape" allowed Democrats to go on offense and try to tie him to the national party's views — and their official reaffirmation of their opposition to abortion on Tuesday gave Democrats another opportunity to attack because it did not explicitly allow for rape and incest exemptions.

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That Bopp felt the need to send out an unsolicited email pushing back on Democratic attacks shows many in the party are nervous that Akin's remarks could tar the party, even though most Republicans — including Mitt Romney — have lambasted Akin's remarks and called for him to drop out of his Senate race.

This issue has been particularly problematic for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whose voting record on abortion is nearly identical to Akin's and who also opposes exemptions for rape and incest. Ryan has been forced to talk about the issue in recent days, a major distraction for the vice presidential candidate.

"In 1980, there were dozens of different versions of a Human Life Amendment then pending in Congress. The approaches included a state's rights version, one reversing the right to abortion, one endorsing restoring personhood, one permitting abortion only to save the life of the mother and some allowing abortion in instances of rape and incest," Bopp continued in the email. "The same approach is taken in the platform when it endorses a constitutional amendment for a Balanced Budget and protecting traditional marriage."

The party's official position, as approved by the committee:

"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."