Top leader of RNC Platform Committee entertained idea of imprisoning women who get abortions, opposes exceptions

One of the leaders of the Republican National Convention’s platform committee, which shapes the party’s official stance on key issues, has a history of pushing extreme anti-abortion positions, including advocating for a national ban without exceptions for rape or incest. He also entertained the possibility of jailing women who get abortions and the doctors who perform them.

Ed Martin, the deputy policy director for the convention’s platform committee, is one of three people the Republican National Committee selected in May to help craft the party’s platform, which serves as a blueprint for the Republican Party’s agenda by detailing policy positions and how Republicans and former President Donald Trump would govern if elected. The platform is expected to be pared down this year, slashing the length of the document to focus on Trump’s agenda for a second term.

Martin has consistently espoused a hardline position on abortion, criticizing Republicans with a more moderate stance on the issue, and has even questioned the safety of birth control.

“The true bane of the pro-life movement is the faction of fake pro-lifers who claim to believe in the sanctity of human life but are only willing to vote that way with a list of exceptions,” Martin said on his radio show in June 2022 – several days after Roe v. Wade was struck down.

Martin, an attorney and former chair of the Missouri Republican Party, was a staunch advocate for Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and conspiracy theories the election was rigged against him. He is also the president of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagles – a socially conservative advocacy group named for the late activist best known for her opposition to feminism. Schlafly and Martin also co-authored the 2016 book, “The Conservative Case for Trump.”

CNN’s KFile reviewed dozens of episodes of Martin’s radio show, “The Pro America Report,” from 2022 to 2024, to evaluate his anti-abortion comments. Particularly noteworthy from Martin’s show, which airs on the streaming service Rumble, are his comments around the June 2022 Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v Wade.

“If the conversation is, ‘Well, should there be a federal ban?’ And the consensus is that there shouldn’t – I disagree. I disagree with the consensus. I would like to see US Senators and US congressmen and women elected to office who would say, ‘Let’s ban abortion,’” he said in April 2024.

Those views contrast with recent efforts by Trump to move away from calls for a national ban and his suggestions that the issue of abortion should be left to the states—drawing the ire of anti-abortion groups. Trump has repeatedly advocated for exceptions in the case of rape, incest and health of the mother, including at Thursday’s debate.

“You have to follow your heart, but you have to get elected also,” Trump said during the debate.

Trump also said that he “will not block” abortion medication if elected president.

In an email to CNN, Daniella Alvarez, a spokeswoman for the RNC told CNN, “The Platform Committee has yet to convene to discuss what language should be in the final document.” Martin did not respond to requests for comment.

Abortion has emerged as a significant liability for Republicans. Voters have affirmed abortion rights in every state referendum since 2022 and GOP candidates across the country have softened their positions.

Despite this, Martin has continued to advocate for some of the most extreme restrictions on abortion, discounting the case involving the rape of a 10-year-old girl from Ohio as a reason for exceptions, and even falsely claiming that abortions are never performed to save the life of a mother.

“Don’t tell me to stop talking about abortion,” Martin said in April 2024 on his radio show. “Don’t tell me that because you don’t think it’s a winner politically, I’m supposed to stop talking about abortion.”

During a June 2024 appearance on Trump ally Roger Stone’s podcast, Martin said he’s heavily involved in “every aspect” of discussions around the platform, and reiterated his stance on abortion, pushing back on a report the Trump’s campaign was attempting to soften the platform’s position on abortion.

“The platform will respect life in every moment,” Martin told Stone.

Punishing women and abortion doctors

In May 2022, in the days after a draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade was leaked, Martin discussed on his radio show possible prison sentences for women and abortion doctors. Martin said if anti-abortion activists accepted abortion rights advocates’ framing – that it was about a woman’s right – women could not be imprisoned for getting an abortion. But if the argument was reframed as being about a baby, the question whether to punish women was open.

“The late Phyllis Schlafly, whom I worked so closely with, used to say, ‘If you get to claim and frame the argument, you almost certainly get to win.’ In other words, if you take their framing, it’s a woman’s right. Are you gonna put women in jail? No. It’s about a baby. Now, what do we do? Frame the argument. Own the argument,” he said.

Earlier, Martin was discussing Louisiana’s trigger law, which immediately banned abortion in almost all cases in the state after Roe was struck down.

“If you ban abortion in Louisiana, is a doctor who has an abortion breaking the law? Yes. Should he be punished? Yes – I think that seems obvious. What is the punishment? Not sure yet. Could be criminal, could be a jail sentence, I suppose,” he said.

Martin also compared abortion to a family starving a child to death purposely in saying the state had an interest in some form of punishment.

“What do you do with the woman that has an abortion? I don’t think we have a good answer yet. Some people say that they shouldn’t be held liable in any way,” he said. “Some people say they should have some kind of penalty, something on their record,” he said. “I certainly think that you’re gonna find a lot of people that step away from jail time. But if you believe it’s a baby – I do – then you have to do something to protect the baby.”

“You don’t just turn your back and say, ‘Oh, well, you know what? In that family over there, I, I don’t care what they do to their family, that’s their family,’” he continued. “’I don’t care if they take their five-year-old kid, and they, and they, let ‘em starve to death.’ No, you don’t do that. You say, ‘We have to have some laws that hold us together, and we have to be careful about it’…But we certainly would say in the case of starvation or life and death, there is an interest in the state to say, ‘Hey, what are we gonna do here?’”

Martin has said repeatedly he opposes abortion in any situation, including, as he said in July 2022, the rape of a 10-year-old Ohio girl.

“This 10-year-old was brought up as an example of why abortion is necessary,” Martin said. “I have said over and over again the examples that shouldn’t be the rule, right? You can’t let the exceptions be the rule. Especially when you get engaged in debate. I refuse to do it. I refuse.”

“I’ll just tell you, I think abortion’s wrong. I think it’s wrong because of morality. I think it’s wrong because of science,” he added.

Opposition to abortion pills

Martin has also said he opposes language in abortion bans that allows for abortion to save the life of a mother, falsely saying on his radio show in June 2022, “It’s an absolute scientific fact that no abortion is ever performed to save the life of the mother. None, zero, zilch.”

The Supreme Court ruled last week that emergency abortions could be performed in Idaho in cases where the life of a pregnant woman is at stake, though the decision provides little clarity on the threshold for life-saving exceptions.

Martin also falsely claimed multiple times that medically-induced abortion, which he referred to as a chemical abortion, and birth control pills were dangerous and “damaging,” repeatedly criticizing the “loosey goosey regulation around pill abortion” and that it could be ordered via mail.

Data analyzed by CNN last year found that the abortion pill mifepristone is safe – even safer than the drugs penicillin and Viagra – and a safer option than a procedural abortion or childbirth.

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to how the Food and Drug Administration regulates the abortion pill mifepristone in mid-June, allowing the pill to stay on the market and ship to patients without an in-person doctor’s visit.

RNC platform

Martin is one of three leaders now shaping the GOP platform – along with Russ Vought, the influential former White House Office of Management and Budget director in the Trump administration, and Randy Evans, a former US ambassador to Luxembourg during the Trump administration.

The RNC’s platform typically details the party’s stance on important topics such as abortion, marriage, policing, the Federal Reserve, technology, and energy. It is created by a committee that includes one male and one female representative from each US state and territory, who vote to adopt the platform at the convention.

The party’s platform is typically debated and fought over behind-the-scenes by party leaders. In 2016, the platform notably weakened its position on providing aid and weapons to Ukraine amidst Russian incursion, prompting the special counsel Robert Mueller one year later to investigate whether Trump himself had influenced the decision. The Mueller report found no evidence that Trump ordered or was even aware of the platform changes.

In 2020, the RNC chose not to adopt a new platform because of logistics and the coronavirus pandemic.

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