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Delegate: Trump Campaign To Gut Pro-Life Platform Provisions And Make Abortion A ‘State Issue’

‘The call that has been in the platform since the mid ’80s for a human life amendment is [also] not in the document,’ Perkins said.


The Republican National Committee is planning to reduce its platform by roughly half and refocus the pro-life provisions to treat abortion as a state issue, according to delegate Tony Perkins, chairman of Family Research Council Action.

“The life issue is changing. They’re scaling everything back, cutting the platform in about half   — which when you start cutting it in half, you’re going to start losing something,” Perkins told The Federalist. “They’ve been very forthright on this, that the life plank is going to be substantially changed so that it reflects where the former president is, on this being a state issue.”

The party’s current platform includes provisions that call for the protection of unborn children based upon the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution’s Fifth and 14th Amendments.

“The call that has been in the platform since the mid ’80s for a human life amendment is not in the document,” Perkins said.

The 2016 platform, also used in 2020, is 58 pages.

“According to what they communicated to delegates,” Perkins said, “it could be half that, could be less.”

Recent rumors and calls to shorten the platform have been concerning pro-life advocates something like this might happen.

“We have heard that the pro-life language, which has been basically the same since 1984, will likely change or be cut,” Kris Ullman, president of Eagle Forum, told The Federalist Wednesday morning.

Danielle Alvarez, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, told The Federalist on Tuesday the platform committee had not yet decided on any language.

“The platform committee has yet to convene to discuss what language should be in the final document,” Alvarez said. 

Eagle Forum Executive Director Tabitha Walter confirmed there has been an internal conflict between individuals in the RNC and the Trump campaign over keeping the platform’s existing pro-life provisions. 

“There’s no doubt in my mind that those conversations are happening on a regular basis, and that certain members of the RNC and the Trump campaign aren’t necessarily unified or finding consensus on this issue,” Walter said Tuesday.

Changing the Process

According to Perkins, the party’s rules governing the platform process have changed greatly from those of the past, which dictated open meetings.

“The process remains a big concern that we’ll have a fair opportunity to actually amend the document,” Perkins said. “This is what’s concerning, is that if you don’t operate according to the established rules, and you just kind of do what you want, there’s no fairness.”

Perkins said he thinks the new process will obscure responsibility for any changes.

“Congress controlled by the Left wanted to silence opposition and keep people from bringing amendments to the floor and fully debating policy. That’s what the left does,” Perkins said. “But now we see the Republican Party doing the same thing.”

Walter said she feels the RNC and Trump campaign have closed the platform process to outside groups, so they have been operating based on rumors. 

According to Ullman, the committee and subcommittee meetings are closed to the press, and it is unclear how to attend with a guest pass. 

Tom McClusky is representing CatholicVote at the proceedings. He said he trained under Phyllis Schlafly and has worked on the RNC platform since 2004, and this is the first time he can recall outside groups not being allowed into the platform committee or subcommittees. 

“Outside groups aren’t going to be allowed into the committee process or subcommittee process, which is extremely troubling because that’s usually where the pro-life language has been refined and protected,” McClusky said. “The actions they are taking do not fill me full of hope, especially blocking any outside groups from participating in the platform. I think good things don’t happen behind closed doors.”

He also said one of the platform’s usual authors is not involved this year.

“There is one gentleman who’s written the platform every year since 1980 except for 2004. He’s not involved. That is extremely troubling,” McClusky said. “And 2004 was probably the worst platform we’ve had since 1980.”

McClusky said he has not seen any platform language, so is not sure the direction of current discussions. 

“The campaign has a lot of solid pro-lifers within it, and some who are involved in this project,”McClusky noted.

A ‘Streamlined’ Platform

The Trump campaign sent a memo from Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles to the platform committee June 27, dictating a “streamlined platform in line with President Trump’s principled and popular vision for America’s future.”

“It is incumbent upon us to ensure our policy commitments to the American people are clear, concise, and easily digestible for every voter,” reads the memo, obtained by The Federalist. “We look forward to working with the Republican National Convention’s Platform Committee to pass an America First platform that guides and steers our party and, indeed, our nation.”

According to Ullman, the Trump campaign seems to be directing platform proceedings. 

“It appears that people inside the Trump campaign are calling the shots to the RNC, which conveys it to the delegates,” Ullman said. 

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action and a delegate to the platform committee, wrote RNC Chair Michael Whatley on Monday to oppose a gag rule on deliberations that he said “restricts access to the deliberations of the various committees and subcommittees to only the credentialed delegates of those committees.” 

“This Gag Rule cannot reflect the position of President Trump, who has been the target of these types of tactics from the Left, who want to silence their opponents. Nothing can be more un-American,” Perkins wrote. “The RNC gag rule heightens speculation that the GOP platform will be watered down to a few pages of meaningless, poll-tested talking points.”

McClusky said that while it appears the RNC will shorten its platform, it is unclear by exactly how much.

“If they’re talking about shortening it to one page, I think that’s a problem because then you’re a party that doesn’t really stand for anything,” McClusky said. “I think the last platform was 60 pages. If they wanted to make that 30 pages, I wouldn’t argue with that.”

If the RNC abridges or cuts pro-life provisions from its platform, McClusky said he thinks it could be an attempt to appeal to more voters.

“I understand why they’re cautious. They wrongly might not perceive pro-life to be a winner right now,” McClusky said. “The Republican Party is the party for life, it has been since 1980, and we work to bring around a culture that celebrates life.”

Conservative Groups Respond

Advancing American Freedom, a conservative nonprofit, said in a letter to RNC convention delegates July 1 reported by The Daily Caller that there have been rumors “some in the party want to wash their hands of the fight for life.”

“With rumors of secret, closed-door meetings and some in the party wishing to weaken our pro-life positions, we felt the need to directly address this issue,” the release reads. “We encourage you to support pro-life planks and vote down any platform that weakens the party’s commitment to the cause of life.”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America issued a press release July 2, saying it has been seeking assurances that the Trump campaign would not “gut” the platform’s pro-life provisions.

“We are now just two business days away from the platform committee meeting and no assurances have been made. Instead, every indication is that the campaign will muscle through changes behind closed doors,” wrote SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser in the release. “If the Trump campaign decides to remove national protections for the unborn in the GOP platform, it would be a miscalculation that would hurt party unity and destroy pro-life enthusiasm.”

The FRC announced the same day a “Platform Integrity Project” to maintain pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Israel positions in the RNC platform. Groups involved include the American Principles Project, Faith Wins, Family Policy Alliance, Liberty Counsel Action, and Wallbuilders. 

“The message to platform committee delegates is clear: preserve life and family values in the Republican Party platform so that social conservatives can continue to find a home in the GOP,” Perkins wrote in the release. 

Potential Consequences

The RNC platform will likely go public Sunday night, according to McClusky. He said any delays would raise more concerns. Perkins said recent procedural changes would make delays a possibility.

“They release it Sunday night so the delegates can read through it and create any amendments that they need to,” McClusky said. “If they decide not to give it to them until Monday morning, it means the fix is in.”

McClusky compared the platform to a game of “Jenga,” which involves removing planks from a tower while trying to keep it upright.

“You start taking away those Jenga pieces,” McClusky said, “and eventually the pro-life movement is going to catch on that we’re not welcome here.” 

Perkins said this platform change will not push the pro-life base to vote for Democrats, but it will make campaign efforts more difficult.

“It dampens enthusiasm, where people are not as motivated to make phone calls, knock on doors and talk to their friends,” Perkins said. “They’re spending time answering questions, ‘Why did the party do this? What’s going on?’ So instead of spending their time in a positive way, it’s on the defensive.” 

Trump won 2016 in part because of his pro-life stance, with more than 80 percent of what Pew Research described as “white, born-again/evangelical Christians” — and the majority of other self-identifying Christians — voting for him, according to Pew Research.

Trump may be adjusting his messaging to capture more moderates in a post-Dobbs America, but he risks losing enthusiasm from the voter bloc that initially helped place him in office.

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