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The ban on the creation of human embryos would likely halt in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques that have resulted in the births of five million babies worldwide since 1979. Why? Because IVF often involves producing more embryos than will be implanted so that the extras are discarded. In May, Mitt Romney’s eldest son Tagg Romney and his wife Ann had taken advantage of IVF techniques when they announced the birth of twin sons who were born using a surrogate. In 2010, the couple had another son using a surrogate.
The Platform flatly states that Republicans "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 also supports a "human life amendment to the Constitution." Lots of left-leaning commentators declared that this meant that the Republicans opposed abortion even in the cases of rape and incest and when the life of the mother is imperiled.
Checking back, it turns out that essentially identical language has appeared in every Republican Party platform since 1984. The media outcry was certainly primed by Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s ridiculous observations about the likelihood of pregnancy resulting from "legitimate rape." As it happens, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment has kept track of the texts of the major versions of it (it’s been introduced 330 times in Congress) since 1973. Most of the human life amendments would allow an abortion "when a reasonable medical certainty exists that continuation of the pregnancy will cause the death of the mother." None of them, however, permit an abortion in the case of rape or incest.
The morality of abortion will not be decided by scientific evidence, but certain claims in the platform can be. For example, the platform states, “Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.” Is that so? With regard to health, a 2012 study comparing the safety of legal induced abortions with childbirth found, "The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than that with abortion." It is not surprising that some women do feel regret and perhaps guilt with regard to the decision to have an abortion, but a 2009 comprehensive review of the psychological evidence in American Psychologist found that "the majority of adult women who terminate a pregnancy do not experience mental health problems." In addition, "most women reported being satisfied with their decision to abort both one month and two years postabortion." It should, however, be noted that a new study from Finland suggests that women who have an abortion are at higher risk of later having a preterm birth.
The Republican Platform favors "an all of the above" energy policy (incidentally a phrase borrowed from the GOP by President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union speech). In his nomination acceptance speech last week Romney promised, "By 2020, North America will be an energy independent by taking invented (sic) of our oil, are coal, our gas, our nuclear, and renewables." Since 1973, most presidents and president-wannabes have made the same vow.
Encouragingly, the GOP platform declares, "Unlike the current Administration, we will not pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Instead, we will let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes." For instance, with regard to renewable sources of energy, the platform states, "The taxpayers should not serve as venture capitalists for risky endeavors."
Sounds great, but then the platform spoils the effect somewhat by noting, "No new nuclear generating plants have been licensed and constructed for thirty years. We call for timely processing of new reactor applications currently pending at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission." So does this mean that nuclear power is a "winner?" There is not a word about why taxpayers should serve as nuclear power venture capitalists by being on the hook for $17 billion in federal nuclear power plant loan guarantees. If solar socialism is bad, why is nuclear socialism OK?
More happily, the GOP platform does strongly back the production of natural gas through fracking and promises to "review the environmental laws that often thwart new energy exploration and production."
Quite sensibly, the Republican Platform favors "a policy of strategic immigration, granting more work visas to holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math from other nations." After all, more than 50 percent of Ph.D recipients in science in engineering are students from outside the United States. Why send home the tens of thousands of scientists and engineers educated in America's universities who could jumpstart technological innovation here? If only the GOP would be more generous when it comes to policies that would enable other immigrants to settle here and contribute to the success of our country.
The Republicans evidently retain some affection for NASA, noting that the agency has “inspired generations of Americans” with feats like landing on the moon (more than 40 years ago). Oddly, there is no mention of the recent significant successes that privatization has brought to space exploration.