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(c) by Mary Griggs

Contrary to what House Speaker John Boehner would like to believe, I read party platforms. It has been my experience that what the candidates say in debates or in campaign ads has little to do with how they will govern. It is the policies within their party platforms that gives one the best clues of their priorities.

One of the things that really struck me about the Republican Party platform is the multiple calls for choice.

There are calls for choice in healthcare:

Consumer choice is the most powerful factor in healthcare reform…Putting the patient at the center of policy decisions will increase choice and reduce costs while ensuring that services provide what Americans actually want…We will ensure that America’s aging population has access to safe and affordable care…We will champion the right of individual choice in senior care.

In Medicare:

While retaining the option of traditional Medicare in competition with private plans, we call for a transition to a premium-support model for Medicare, with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice. This model will include private health insurance plans that provide catastrophic protection, to ensure the continuation of doctor-patient relationships.

In education:

Today’s education reform movement calls for accountability at every stage of schooling. It affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations. It recognizes the wisdom of State and local control of our schools, and it wisely sees consumer rights in education – choice – as the most important driving force for renewing our schools…We support options for learning, including home schooling and local innovations like single-sex classes, full-day school hours, and year-round schools. School choice – whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits – is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools.

Even in religion:

We pledge to respect the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard the independence of their institutions from government.

The one place where no choice is allowed is for women to make reproductive health decisions for themselves and their families.

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.

I guess for Republicans, everyone but women of childbearing age are able to make intelligent decisions on matters that effect them. For Republicans, motherhood is not an option – every pregnancy must be carried to term, no matter the cost her mental, physical or financial well-being. Further, their language would criminalize miscarriages, too.

The Republican platform’s insistence on granting greater autonomy to the unborn than the mother is liable to alienate a good number of Americans. Personhood amendments have failed every time they’ve come before the voters – even in Mississippi – and most polls show that a majority of Americans approve of at least the exceptions of rape, incest and the life and health of the mother.

Every study out there shows the cost savings of preventing pregnancy over neo-natal treatment and post-birth care. This platform plank plus their support of abstinence only education (“We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior…We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception. We support keeping federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio- emotional screening programs.”), is only going to lead to more unplanned pregnancies.  If they were truly pro-small government or pro-balanced budget, they would support policies that save money.

What most angers me, however, is the failure of Republicans to support health policies that allow women to make the decision about when to bear children that is best for them and their families. To refuse to even make exceptions for the horrible violations of rape or incest or for when her life is in danger shows utter heartlessness. If they were truly pro-life, they would be supporting policies that save lives.

I will be voting pro-choice this election. I strongly urge everyone who cares about women to do the same.