Scott Brown won’t take abortion fight to GOP convention

Senator Scott Brown said Wednesday that he would not take his fight against the Republican Party platform’s anti-abortion language to the party’s convention in Tampa next week.

He said he would be in Tampa for only one day, as he has always planned, and would let his letter to GOP chairman Reince Priebus convey his opposition to the strict anti-abortion language. He said he hoped other moderate Republicans, including Maine’s two senators, would pursue the matter further.

“I’m only there for Thursday. I have obviously a race to run. I have a job to do,” Brown said at an event with female small business owners in Quincy. “I wrote a letter immediately. So they know my position. It’s up to others now to join forces, the Olympia Snowes and [Susan] Collins’s and others.”

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Brown’s campaign later said that because he is not a delegate, he is not allowed to take floor action in attempt to change the language, or vote on the platform. But Brown did not indicate that he would take any other action, including lobbying delegates or speaking further on the issue while he is in Tampa.

On Tuesday, Brown wrote a letter of protest to Priebus, after it was reported that the Republican platform committee approved language that calls for a ban on abortion, without exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

“I believe this is a mistake because it fails to recognize the views of pro-choice Republicans like myself,” the senator wrote to Priebus. “Even while I am pro-choice, I respect those who have a different opinion on this very difficult and sensitive issue. Our party platform should make the same concession to those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose.”

The issue of abortion has become more prominent in the campaign, and nationally, since Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said Sunday “legitimate rape” victims’ bodies may somehow be capable of preventing pregnancies.

In response to a reporter’s question Wednesday over whether he would pledge to “never vote in the senate to curb women’s reproductive rights,” Brown said that he would agree.

“I have a long record of this already,” he said. “I’ll promise that. I’ve already been on record on that.”

After Brown’s press conference, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts released a statement asking Brown to make another pledge, that he would support the “Republican Pro-Women’s Health and Individual Liberty Platform” developed by Republicans for Planned Parenthood. The platform “includes support for family planning funding, comprehensive sex education, and a woman’s ability to make a personal, private decision about abortion without government intrusion.”

Planned Parenthood has endorsed Brown’s opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Brown’s campaign did not immediately respond to the release.

In the 2010 special election, Brown was endorsed by the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, even though he backs abortion rights. The group, which opposes legalized abortion, based its endorsement of Brown on his position on several issues—including opposition to the federal health care law, and his support for strong parental consent rules for minors, and for a ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion.

Brown said at Wednesday’s press conference that Warren trails in a recent poll and is trying to lump him in with national Republicans out of desperation. “While she’d like to run apparently against Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and others, she’s running against Scott Brown, and I’m right here,” he said.

But that didn’t stop the criticism from Democrats. Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, seized on Brown’s comment a day earlier that “I don’t need Professor Warren talking, or speaking, or commenting on my votes.” Brown was complaining that Warren had tried to distort his record.

“He needs to understand that if he is going to vote to block access to women’s contraception, against equal pay for women, and in support of Republicans in Congress who want to get rid of Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v Wade, then he is going to get criticized,” Murray said in a statement.