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Hoeven: GOP abortion plank won't hurt Romney

FARGO -- Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., says the hardline pro-life plank of the Republican Party's 2012 platform reflects the long-held stance of the GOP and won't derail Mitt Romney's bid to wrest the White House from the Democrats.

The draft platform calls for a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with no mention of exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.

"My understanding is that they followed the language from previous platforms," Hoeven said Friday of the committee that wrote the platform plank titled "The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life."

Hoeven was one of 112 delegates -- two from each state and territory -- who met recently to cobble together the party's overall platform.

He sat on the panels dealing with energy, defense, agriculture and foreign affairs issues.

The release of the platform came just after Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., drew the anger and scorn of much of the nation, including leaders of his own party, after appearing on a news program and declaring that in cases of "legitimate rape," woman are somehow naturally able to prevent conception and not become pregnant.

Not including exceptions for abortion for rape or incest has fueled speculation that the GOP's stance could alienate moderates and the party votes in the November election.

The language grabbing the most attention in "The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life" section reads:

"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."

Hoeven said repeatedly that despite the language calling for a constitutional amendment, states would be allowed to decide whether to allow abortion in some cases.

"The platform is a broad principal of providing support for life," he said. "Exceptions would be made by the states. So the effort was to have the broad principal that Republicans support, which is supportive of life."

Hoeven said the GOP collected 30,000 comments to help put together its platform, which won't become official until ratified at the GOP convention, which is Monday through Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

Hoeven is pro-life, but said there should be exceptions for rape, incest and to protect a mother's life.

"That's always been my position, since even before I ran for the office," he said.

Romney said he is firmly pro-life, but he's also part of what's been described as the "legal but rare camp," which would allow abortion for rape, incest or to save the life of a mother.

Hoeven said Romney can win with the overall Republican platform.

"You're focused on this one issue," he said. "The platform covers a broad range of issues: jobs, the deficit, energy and all those things, and those are the things, you know, that people are going to look to."