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Cynthia M. Allen: GOP platform downplays abortion. Here's why that could be savvy -- at least for now

Cynthia M. Allen, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Op Eds

Republicans have adopted a platform, in advance of the party convention next week in Milwaukee, that might manage to be a significant disappointment to abortion supporters and opponents alike.

The approved platform mentions the procedure only once. It tacitly refers to the landmark fall of the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure, stating, “after 51 years, because of us, [due process] power has been given to the States and to a vote of the People.” But it does not call for a federal ban on abortion or the passage of a Right to Life Amendment, as the party has stood for in years past.

Instead, it comes down squarely on the side of federalism, much like the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe two years ago, launching battles over the issue state by state.

The platform’s sole mention of abortion is used to affirm the party’s opposition to late term abortion — low-hanging fruit (for anyone who doesn’t live in Virginia or New York).

While the departure from past platforms is striking, it’s not unexpected.

And frankly, it’s probably the right call.

Abortion became an easy attack line against vulnerable Republicans during the 2022 midterms, especially as many candidates found themselves unable to articulate a clear pro-life message in the wake of their party’s massive policy win.

Donald Trump was quick to throw the pro-life community under the bus after his party’s substantial political losses, and has since moderated his position to make clear his support for access to birth control and in-vitro fertilization procedures as well.

 

Worth noting: The party platform also affirms both.

Republicans are probably a little savvier now and looking to downplay their national objectives on abortion in an effort to blunt Democratic assaults leading up to November.

They are also taking direction from a party leader who helped bring the pro-life movement its biggest victory but would have no qualms about leaving them in the dust if it ensured his return to power.

To the extent that the details of party platforms even matter — they don’t — minimizing the anti-abortion message is the politically shrewd thing to do this cycle. In state after state, Democrats have used the issue to boost voter turnout and even enact pro-choice policies by voter referendum.

But it’s going to leave a lot of ardent pro-lifers dissatisfied and wondering if, with Trump at its helm, the GOP’s pro-life message will be permanently diluted.

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