GOP ABORTION PLATFORM: Committee Votes to Keep Ban
Despite efforts by the party's abortion-rights supporters, the GOP platform committee Saturday overwhelmingly voted to maintain "traditional platform language" that calls for a constitutional ban on abortion without exceptions, the Washington Post reports. The platform also calls for an abortion litmus test in choosing federal judges who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Although Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has indicated that he is opposed to litmus tests and favors exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to protect the woman's life, the GOP presidential candidate said that he will accept the platform to "keep peace with the Republican right" (Edsall, Washington Post, 7/30). Maintaining the language of previous platforms, this year's draft version states, "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed" (Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 7/28). In addition, the platform opposes the use of federal funds for abortion or abortion-rights groups (Rauber, New York Post, 7/29). The platform committee also endorsed abstinence education over family planning programs, despite Bush's belief that the two approaches should be given equal consideration (Barnes, Convention Daily, 7/30). In a platform subcommittee on family and community, abortion-rights supporters offered two amendments: one that would adopt language showing "recognition and respect" for Republicans who support abortion rights, and another to drop abortion from the GOP platform entirely. Both amendments were defeated in subcommittee and again in the full platform committee (Dilanian/Kiely, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/30). Offering the amendment to drop the abortion plank, California delegate Toni Casey said, "We need a platform that recognizes and understands that abortion is sensitive, it is a delicate, and it is a personal, moral issue between a woman and her own religion, when she is faced with that very, very difficult and complex decision." However, New Mexico delegate Meribelle Bolton said, "You have to understand that many of us are under a higher authority than the Congress of the United States, the Supreme Court or any state. I am under the authority of the creator of the universe, and he is pro-life -- always has been, always will be" (Toner, New York Times, 7/29). Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) added that the platform "is meaningless if it doesn't stand for something. Saving unborn children is a very noble cause" (Miami Herald, 7/29).
Not Over Yet
Despite the defeat, abortion-rights supporters vowed to continue the fight, possibly by forcing the issue on the convention floor. Ann Stone, chair of Republicans for Choice, said, "We still have another round to go. It's not over yet" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/30). Noting that the strong antiabortion language has damaged the party's chances in the two previous elections and could hurt Bush among moderate, independent voters in the upcoming election, Stone said, "How many more elections is it going to take before they realize we are going to lose our people at the ballot box?" (Robison, Houston Chronicle, 7/29). The full convention will vote on the platform today (Washington Post, 7/30).