John McCain Will Not Change Republican Party’s Pro-Life Platform on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 21, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John McCain Will Not Change Republican Party’s Pro-Life Platform on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 21
, 2008

Minneapolis, MN ( — The McCain campaign confirmed on Thursday that presidential candidate John McCain will not touch the Republican Party’s platform that calls for legal protection for unborn children from abortion. In years past, McCain had wanted minor changes to allow for exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told ABC News that McCain will not get involved in the platform debate.

Instead, he will leave it to the platform committee, which is composed mostly of pro-life advocates, to draw up the language in that section of the party’s statement of its views.

"There’s a process in place for the delegates to work on the platform and we are going to let that process work itself out," Rogers said.

McCain campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker confirmed the news in an email to the Wall St. Journal.

"The delegates are going through the process and we are going to let them work their will on the platform," she said

The decision is no surprise given that McCain aides said in April he wouldn’t weaken the platform’s position against abortion.

"Do you think we are crazy? Why would we want to change the platform?" an unnamed advisor told the Washington Times at the time.

During a March interview with Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes, McCain replied with a short "yes" that he would keep the abortion platform as it stands now.

The decision is good news for pro-life advocates who were worried there may be some weakening of the platform and further acknowledgement that McCain is pro-life and will run a pro-life administration, as he promised in a forum last weekend.

Pro-life groups previously asked McCain to keep the pro-life platform in place.

Colleen Parro of the Republican National Coalition for Life told that McCain could send a strong message to the majority of Republican voters who are pro-life by endorsing the platform language.

"John McCain should let us know that he understands there can be no ‘common ground’ between people who think it should be legal to kill babies before they are born and those who wish to protect their lives," Parro said.

"If John McCain wants to unify the Party in order to win in November, he must begin by stating his unequivocal support for the pro-life plank," she added.

The current GOP position on abortion advocates a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would afford legal protection to unborn children throughout pregnancy.

"As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the platform reads.

The Republican Party has supported a pro-life amendment to the Constitution since 1976, the first convention after the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Republican Party activists have continually rebuffed efforts to remove the plank from the platform and pro-abortion GOP groups calling for its removal appear out of step with most Republican voters.

Post-election polling after the 2004 presidential elections found that President Bush’s pro-life stance gave him an edge over pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry.

A 2004 Wirthlin Worldwide post-election poll found that 39 percent of voters said abortion affected the way they voted for president. Twenty-four percent of those voters cast their ballots for President Bush while 15% voted for Kerry, giving Bush a 9 percent advantage on the issue of abortion.

Eight percent of voters in the Wirthlin poll indicated abortion was the "most important" issue affecting their votes and Bush won among those voters by a six to two percent margin, leading Kerry by four percentage points among the most intense abortion voters.

Most states, during the primaries, had exit polling showing a majority of Republicans take a pro-life position on abortion.

Exit Polling Shows Most States With
Pro-Life Republican Majorities

State Pro-Life v. Pro-Abortion Always Illegal Mostly Illegal Mostly Legal Always Legal Alabama 76-20% 32% 44% 15% 5% Arizona 58-37% 17% 42% 25% 13% Arkansas 80-18% 37% 43% 13% 6% California 54-42% 19% 35% 28% 14% Connecticut 46-50% 13% 33% 30% 20% Florida 54-44% 18% 35% 30% 14% Georgia 64-33% 25% 39% 24% 9% Illinois 64-33% 26% 38% 23% 10% Iowa 74-23% 25% 49% 16% 7% Louisiana 75-22% 38% 37% 15% 7% Maryland 56-42% 17% 39% 28% 14% Massachusetts 41-56% 13% 28% 37% 19% Missouri 74-23% 32% 43% 18% 6% New Hampshire 45-52% 15% 30% 32% 20% New Jersey 46-53% 16% 29% 34% 19% New York 48-49% 14% 34% 28% 21% Ohio 70-28% 27% 43% 22% 6% Oklahoma 76-22% 27% 49% 17% 6% South Carolina 71-28% 28% 43% 19% 9% Tennessee 75-22% 33% 42% 15% 7% Texas 68-29% 25% 44% 22% 7% Utah 85-13% 10% 75% 10% 3% Virginia 63-34% 25% 38% 25% 9% Wisconsin 74-25% 27% 47% 16% 9%

Source:, compiled from CNN exit polling data


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