by Steven Ertelt
August 19, 2004
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — The Republican Party platform has taken a pro-life position on abortion since 1976, during the first GOP convention following the Roe v. Wade decision. With the selection of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to craft that aspect of the platform, the position likely won’t change.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, who is pro-life, was selected by the party to be the chairman of the platform committee. He, in turn, chose Barbour, a former party chairman, to direct the "Protecting Our Families" subcommittee charged with the task of crafting the anti-abortion language.
When Barbour was the RNC chairman in 1996, the party platform retained its position in favor of a Human Life Amendment that would provide legal protection to unborn children throughout pregnancy.
Pro-life attorney Jim Bopp is a member of the platform committee and he told LifeNews.com that Barbour’s selection should ensure the platform will remain strongly pro-life.
"I am very pleased with the appointment of Gov. Haley Barbour as chairman of the Family subcommittee," Bopp said. "He has a strong pro-life and pro-family record and will be a powerful advocate for President Bush’s positions."
Though pro-life advocates will work to keep the pro-life position intact, groups favoring abortion are looking to strip it from the platform.
Describing themselves as "mainstream" Republicans, a coalition of three groups, including the Republicans for Choice political action committee, Log Cabin Republican, a gay rights organization, and the Republican Youth Majority, are targeting the platform.
"We recognize and respect that Republicans of good faith may not agree with all the planks in the party’s platform. This is particularly the case with regard to those planks dealing with abortion [and] family planning," the groups said in a recent statement.
But Bopp, who has done legal work for the Republican Party and is general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, tells LifeNews.com that he "expect[s] the pro-life plank to be retained and strengthened."
"Republican presidential candidates have benefited from their pro-life positions in all recent elections and any weakening of the pro-life plank would undermine that support," Bopp said.
In fact, a study published by the Gallup Poll Special Report entitled "Public Opinion About Abortion — An In-Depth Review" said "the abortion issue has been an advantage for Republican candidates" for all six presidential elections from 1984 to 2000 because of the nominee’s pro-life position.
According to the Gallup, of the 14% of voters who said abortion was one of the most important issues in deciding whom to vote for in the 2000 presidential election, 58% supported Bush, while only 41% voted for pro-abortion candidate Al Gore.