Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A party platform without choice is an injustice to victims

Just last week in our own back yard, Republicans made official a party platform that includes support for a constitutional amendment against abortion with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

And this week in our own back yard, we saw headlines about a terrible crime that makes you wonder if they can possibly mean it.

The girl is not yet in her teens. Pinellas County sheriff's officials say her mother's boyfriend, a man named Gregory Johns, who had a history of violent crime, raped her. He was ultimately shot dead by deputies trying to arrest him. She was impregnated. She was 11. It bears repeating.

Eleven.

Forget for a moment a woman's very personal right to choose, the spark for recent demonstrations at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Here is a question for those who seem to know what's best for the rest of the world:

Can reasonable people really believe there should be no choice, under any circumstance, even in what happened to this child?

Despite the language (or lack thereof) in his party platform, Republican presidential pick Mitt Romney has said he supports exceptions for rape, incest and when the mother's life is in danger. Heartbeat-away vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has in the past sounded a more hard-line note. And Republicans have among them a Senate hopeful who recently and famously opined that in real rapes, a woman's body has this secret way of rejecting impregnation, citing "doctors" as his source for this miracle.

Which would be news to anyone involved in the case of the girl preyed upon by a 42-year-old man in what you would hope even Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri would consider a "legitimate" rape. It would be news to cops and prosecutors who deal with children similarly victimized.

One of the Daily Shows from Tampa last week included a grimly funny bit: Correspondent Samantha Bee talked to various convention attendees about how Romney's stance on abortion was less stringent with the exceptions he named than the party's own no-exception platform.

Well, they answered, it was a personal matter, and Romney had a right to choose.

A choice — get it?

Imagine a child is raped and pregnant — Akin's theory notwithstanding — and a law that says too bad, she has no choice.

I called a half-dozen conservative local Republicans, including statewide office holders, but apparently no one wants to talk about how this 11-year-old fits in with the platform.

A.J. Matthews, a Hillsborough Republican state committeeman who wasn't afraid of Samantha Bee last week, did call back. He agrees with Romney's exceptions, he says.

So how does he reconcile himself to a party platform that could one day forbid a child victim from having a choice?

"Even if it was passed … I would support something that would make exceptions," he said.

But those exceptions are not included for a reason: because the party did not put them there.

A spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says a victim's advocate is working with the girl and her family, that she is being helped in any way they can. I don't presume to know what they will do, but in this sad and personal circumstance, at least they have choices, at least for now.

A party platform without choice is an injustice to victims 09/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 8:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what is likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Mayor Rick Kriseman (right) squared off against former Mayor Rick Baker (left) during a debate moderated by Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith (center) Wednesday night. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
  2. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  3. UF president Kent Fuchs: 'Charlottesville changed everything' (w/video)

    K12

    GAINESVILLE — Wednesday evening, hazy rumors of an impending Neo-Nazi march reached some wary protesters. A few quickly rallied to denounce the marchers in downtown Gainesville, only to find plazas empty but for police.

    University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs talks with reporters Wednesday about white nationalist Richard Spencer's planned speech on Thursday. He said of Spencer: "In a small way, he is causing us to redouble our focus on supporting actions that are the opposite of what he wants." [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Kenya vote chief says 'difficult' to have credible election

    World

    NAIROBI, Kenya — It is "difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election" in Kenya's fresh presidential vote just eight days away despite "full technical preparedness," the head of the election commission said Wednesday as another wave of uncertainty swept through East Africa's largest economy.

  5. International array of artists chosen as finalists for Pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.