Fears Grow Among Conservatives Over Abortion in GOP Platform

Leading anti-abortion, evangelical and social conservative groups are pressuring the Republican National Committee (RNC) not to soften its stance on abortion ahead of a meeting to draft a new GOP platform next week.

New efforts by groups including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Students for Life and a coalition led by the Family Research Council aim to ensure that Republicans do not accept former President Trump's proposal to leave abortion up to the states as the party's official position.

Anti-abortion leaders have expressed concern about Trump's approach during the campaign. He has tried not to take a firm stand or wade into the political minefield of abortion.

But as the RNC gathers around Trump in preparation for its nominating convention in Milwaukee, these groups are growing increasingly concerned.

They argue that weakening the platform would amount to undoing all the progress the movement has made in restricting access to the procedure, and risks creating divisions within the party when they should be united.

It appears the campaign and the RNC have rejected these pleas.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the anti-abortion movement has been demanding assurances from the Trump campaign for more than a month “that they will not erode the pro-life component of the platform,” but has yet to hear back.

“All indications are that the campaign will make changes behind closed doors,” Dannenfelser said in a statement. “If the Trump campaign decides to remove national protections for the unborn in the GOP platform, it would be a miscalculation that would damage party unity and destroy pro-life enthusiasm between now and the election.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, hosted a webcast with Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) Monday night in which she urged young anti-abortion activists to contact their state and local GOP leaders.

Hawkins said she has had several conversations with the Trump campaign since February about what the platform should convey.

During the webcast, Hawkins and Lankford criticized the idea that abortion is a matter for states alone to regulate.

“I'm very aware that we don't have 60 votes in the Senate. But the worst thing we can do is not talk about it at all, and somehow let people assume that this is no longer a value … the way to win the argument is to keep talking about it, not talk about it less. So as Republicans, we need to have that national focus, talk about it,” Lankford said.

The Republican Party has long condemned abortion and supported a nationwide ban.

In 2016, the platform supported “an amendment to the Constitution and Human Life Act to make clear that the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment extend to children before birth.”

It also contained language opposing any government funding for performing or promoting abortions or for funding organizations like Planned Parenthood.

However, the platform has not been updated since then, as the RNC took emergency action in 2020 due to COVID-19.

This year is especially significant because it’s the first time the party has come together to push for change since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Anti-abortion advocates, including RNC members, are eager to make their mark.

But the Trump campaign is resisting vulnerability. Trump has a history of avoiding taking a direct stance on controversial issues, often giving himself room to change or back down when politically expedient.

The campaign plans to present a “streamlined” platform and will reportedly have no media or spectators in the room when the platform is presented and voted on, though it may be open to other RNC members.

Danielle Alvarez, a senior adviser to Trump's campaign, said the platform committee “has not yet met to discuss what language should be in the final document,” so speculation is premature.

But the campaign also ensures that the platform committee includes members who are loyal to the campaign and who are not necessarily hardliners against abortion.

“I'm a little concerned about the heavy-handed tactics that were used to get people on the platform committee, and also to make sure that certain people couldn't serve on the platform committee,” said one RNC member.

The platform committee candidates didn't want to do anything to undermine Trump's election, “but they also don't want it to be watered down to a pale imitation. If the platform doesn't stand for anything, why have anything at all?” the member said.

To increase the transparency of Platform meetings, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a member of the Platform Committee, launched a new initiative to track and assess the individual votes of Platform delegates.

But Arizona state Rep. Alex Kolodin, who also serves on the platform committee, said he thinks anti-abortion leaders are responding to the perception of change, rather than concrete evidence that something will happen.

“I'm sure there will be moderate efforts to water down the very strong pro-life position that we've taken in our platform, and we absolutely have to be vigilant about that. I mean, the establishment is a real thing,” Kolodin said.

He acknowledged that people may be suspicious that the meeting is taking place behind closed doors.

“But I would just say that before we start pointing fingers this way or that way, maybe we need to have some real direct one-on-one conversations… I haven’t seen any evidence… that the campaign has spoken out about this. And that’s something that people should be skeptical about.”

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