RNC poised in draft text to drop national limits on abortion from party platform


The Republican Party is poised to abandon its current position explicitly advocating for federal abortion limits, according to a draft text of its new proposed platform obtained by POLITICO.

The platform represents a major change for the GOP — and one that anti-abortion advocates had spent months rallying against. The new language describing abortion as an issue to be decided by the states is in line with the position held by former President Donald Trump. Still, some anti-abortion leaders are lauding the inclusion of language pointing to 14th Amendment protections that conservatives have long argued protects life beginning at conception.

The platform language, which is still in draft form, is being deliberated by a committee that is expected to be largely deferential to the Trump campaign’s recommendations. Unlike the party’s platform passed in 2016, the proposed text does not include a 20-week federal limit on abortions or call for states to pass the Human Life Amendment, which proposes to amend the Constitution to say that life begins at conception.

The draft text presented to members of the RNC’s platform committee Monday instead says that states are “free to pass laws protecting” the rights granted in the 14th Amendment.

“After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the States and to a vote of the People,” the draft language states. “We will oppose Late Term Abortion, while supporting mothers and policies that advance Prenatal Care, access to Birth Control, and IVF (fertility treatments).”

The heading for that section of the proposed platform says that Republicans will “Protect and Defend a Vote of the People, from within the States, on the Issue of Life.”

A spokesperson for the RNC and Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If the draft language sticks, the change would represent a shift for the GOP, which for decades has advocated for a federal law to limit abortion access.

The draft proposal was issued to members of the Republican National Committee’s platform committee Monday morning as the RNC is taking unusually aggressive steps to keep this week’s meetings on the party platform under wraps, barring delegates from using their phones, strictly controlling the release of draft language and prohibiting the media and most outside observers from attending, according to 10 people with knowledge of the proceedings.

The new rules were criticized by some top party activists. Two delegates to the platform committee called the restrictions “unprecedented,” with one fearing the protocols are aimed at limiting public dissent and ramming through a platform that otherwise might not have broad approval.

“The RNC is doing this process behind closed doors because they know that the Republican grassroots would never go for this establishment RINO bullshit,” said the delegate, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the process.

After seeing the platform text Monday morning, the delegate added that “other than that there’s a fight to be held over the Human Life Amendment, it’s a really good platform. I have no idea why they did all the James Bond stuff.”

The delegate blamed the restrictions on the RNC specifically and not Trump’s campaign. But the two entities have effectively functioned as one since Trump pushed out former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel earlier this year, replacing her and other top committee leaders with his own selections, among them his senior campaign adviser and his daughter-in-law.

Members of the platform committee, which convened at Milwaukee’s convention center, are forbidden access to phones while inside the meeting, according to several people with knowledge of the new rules who said the devices were placed inside of special bags. And RNC members observing the meeting as guests are also barred from using devices.

Numbered copies of the draft platform, which will be deliberated over the next two days, were intended to be tightly held by members of the platform committee and hard copies of the language were not to be taken out of the meeting room, according to people with knowledge of the rules.

Frustrations around the platform committee process come as social conservatives fear that the party is poised to backtrack from the more strident anti-abortion position it has held for decades. Evangelical and anti-abortion leaders have pushed the Trump campaign for weeks to not adopt his leave-abortion-to-the-states approach in the official party platform, but instead carve a path that preserves some federal role in setting abortion policy.

Anti-abortion leaders have decried efforts to tightly control the process, including the removal of two hardline anti-abortion delegates from the platform committee. Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, accused Trump of trying to “[single-handedly] change the GOP’s entire platform,” which she called “completely unnecessary” and “harmful.”

“This will only cause division within the GOP and take focus of energy off of defeating Biden in November,” Hawkins wrote on X Sunday night. “Loser move.”

Another anti-abortion leader, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the platform process, said that the “secrecy” has confirmed that “Trump and his campaign officials are willing to sacrifice the pro-life cause for the sake of their political expediency.”

John Fredericks, a conservative radio host and Trump loyalist on the platform committee, bashed efforts by other social conservative leaders, particularly Tony Perkins, to inundate the RNC with angry calls and emails.

“Their tactics have backfired,” Fredericks told POLITICO, referring to anti-abortion leaders like Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who have urged activists to contact platform committee members telling them not to water down the party platform on abortion.

“I have gotten 700 of the same email in the last five days. It’s of no value, it’s annoying, and it has backfired,” Fredericks said. “If Tony Perkins was so concerned about getting the language he wanted, then he should have run for president and won the primary.”

The RNC over the last two and a half years, starting under McDaniel’s tenure, began closing its regular committee meetings to press and, at times, kicking reporters out of lobbies and hallways at the hotels where they met. At other times, the RNC opened general sessions to reporters during yearly meetings.

But RNC committee meetings held in conjunction with the party’s quadrennial summer conventions have long been open to reporters, activists and even the public, as the platform meetings were broadcast live on CSPAN.

Top anti-abortion leaders have decried the change, suggesting that the lack of transparency signals an effort by the RNC and Trump campaign to circumvent the will of the party’s activist base in drafting the GOP platform.



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