Trump proposes GOP platform that softens abortion stance despite pleas from Christian conservatives

Pro-life demonstrators hold 'Most Pro-Life President Ever' signs during the 47th annual 'March for Life' in Washington, DC, on Jan. 24, 2020.
Pro-life demonstrators hold "Most Pro-Life President Ever" signs during the 47th annual "March for Life" in Washington, DC, on Jan. 24, 2020. | Nicholas Kamm /AFP via Getty Images

A proposed Republican Party platform backed by presumptive presidential nominee, former President Donald Trump, would soften the pro-life stance of the GOP, removing calls for federal restrictions to abortion access and language opposing same-sex marriage. 

The 2024 Republican convention platform committee reportedly voted 84-18 on Monday during a closed-door session in favor of the proposed abortion plank, which does not call for a national abortion ban nor a constitutional amendment to protect unborn human life.

In 2016 and 2020, Trump ran on a platform that called for a constitutional amendment to protect unborn life and for a national abortion ban with some exceptions at 20 weeks into a pregnancy. But in the build-up of the 2024 race, Trump has openly expressed support for states to determine their own abortion laws and pushed back on social conservatives seeking to enact federal restrictions on abortion. Trump previously criticized Florida for passing a six-week abortion ban.

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The document references the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had declared abortion to be a constitutional right. Trump nominated three of the justices involved in the decision to overturn Roe, and he has taken credit in his campaign speeches for that decision. 

"After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the states and to a vote of the people," reads the document in part, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

"We will oppose late term abortion while supporting mothers and policies that advance prenatal care, access to birth control, and IVF (fertility treatments).

Trump's platform draft also removes language condemning the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision making same-sex marriage a national right, according to The Post. The new draft doesn't weigh in on same-sex marriage and states that "Republicans will promote a culture that values the sanctity of marriage, the blessings of childhood, and the foundational role of families, and supports working parents."

Conservative Christian groups have lobbied the GOP to retain the socially conservative planks of the Republican Party platform, including its pro-life stance. The Washington-based Family Research Council launched the Platform Integrity Project along with several other Christian and conservative groups. 

"Party platforms matter," FRC President Tony Perkins, a platform committee member, said in a statement. "They state a party's principles and priorities. … America is an unprecedented place of moral and cultural confusion and is in dire need of leadership and moral clarity."

"The Republican Party must once again communicate a clear and hopeful contrast between the parties by painting a message for voters on the foundational issues — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not in pale pastels but in bright, bold colors."

Ralph Reed, founder and chair of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a longtime Christian conservative political activist, believes the language is "unapologetically pro-life."

"The Republican Party platform makes clear the unborn child has a right to life that is protected by the Constitution under the due process clause of the 14th amendment," Reed told Politico. "That language has been in the GOP platform for 40 years and reflects the view of Ronald Reagan."

"While aspirational, it applies to both the states and the federal government," he added. "The proposed ban on late term abortion also implies federal as well as state action."

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a 2016 presidential candidate, told CNN that he supported making the Republican platform "reflect our nominee." 

"Our nominee's position happens to be one grounded in reality. The reality of it is the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. What that basically means is now it's not states, it's voters at individual states who will get to decide how and what level they want to restrict abortion, if at all," he said. 

"I also think it's important to remember that Democrats, their last platform, basically endorsed abortion paid for by taxpayers at any time without any restrictions. I think the question here is are they going to have a radical plank in their platform that requires Americans to pay for abortions at any time for any reason up until the moment of birth." 

Perkins disagrees with Rubio. 

"I'm stunned by Sen. Marco Rubio's capitulation to the forces of abortion," Perkins tweeted. "There are so many inaccuracies in his comments that I don't know where to start. First, a human life amendment has never been within political reach, it has always been aspirational and so it should remain. I can assure you that if the GOP abandons the unborn in the Party Platform, it will dampen Bible-believing, conservative voter enthusiasm and turnout."

Last week, Perkins sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley opposing what he called an unprecedented "RNC Gag Rule," which he said "restricts access to the deliberations of various committees and subcommittees only to the credentialed delegates of those committees." The rule made it so "neither guests nor the press will be allowed to observe the platform committee or subcommitttee decisions of the Party's principles and policy priorities."

"The RNC Gag Rule heightens speculation that the GOP platform will be watered down to a few pages of meaningless, poll-tested talking points," Perkins lamented.

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