Following Trump’s Lead, Republicans Adopt Platform That Softens Stance on Abortion

Donald Trump told officials Monday that he supports a new Republican Party platform, one that reflects the presumptive nominee’s new position on abortion rights and slims down policy specifics across all areas of government.

The platform, as described to The New York Times by people briefed on it, cements Trump’s ideological takeover of the GOP. The platform is even more nationalistic, more protectionist and less socially conservative than the 2016 Republican platform that was duplicated for the 2020 election.

Trump, who has had the draft for several days, called into a meeting of party officials Monday and said he supports it. The document overwhelmingly was approved during a vote by the platform committee Monday, passing 84-18, according to a person briefed on the matter.

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The abortion section has been softened. There is no longer a reference to “traditional marriage” as between “one man and one woman.” And there is no longer an emphasis on reducing the national debt, only a brief line about “slashing wasteful government spending.”

The rest of the document reflects Trump’s priorities as outlined on his campaign website: a hard-line immigration policy, including mass deportations; a protectionist trade policy with new tariffs on most imports; and sections on using federal power to remove policies in academia, the military and throughout the U.S. government put in place by what it describes as radical Democrats.

Trump and his top aides have alienated some activists by shutting them out of the development of the platform. The former president was especially focused on softening the language on abortion — the issue he views as his biggest vulnerability in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The section on protecting human life has been significantly watered down in the 2024 draft platform. In the 2016 and 2020 platforms, that section included extensive specific details about what the Republican Party would do to limit abortions, including supporting a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks. It stated that “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”

The 2024 draft platform, as described to the Times, is called “America First: A Return to Common Sense,” and softens that abortion language and shifts the issue from one of conscience to a matter best handled by the states. “We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied life or liberty without due process and that the states are, therefore, free to pass laws protecting those rights,” the draft platform reads.

The document makes no mention of a federal abortion ban, which Trump has said he opposes. Instead, the new platform stresses that Republicans oppose “late term abortion” and emphasizes that the party supports “access to birth control, and IVF (fertility treatments).”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, who had been concerned about changes to the platform before the committee’s approval, sounded approving of it.

“It is important that the GOP reaffirmed its commitment to protect unborn life today through the 14th Amendment,” she said in a statement. “Under this amendment, it is Congress that enacts and enforces its provisions. The Republican Party remains strongly pro-life at the national level.” She added: “The mission of the pro-life movement, for the next six months, must be to defeat the Biden-Harris extreme abortion agenda.”

Ralph Reed, chair of the socially conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition, also expressed optimism about the new language.

“The Republican Party platform makes clear the unborn child has a right to life that is protected by the Constitution under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment,” Reed said, adding that it has long been in the Republican platform and praising Trump. “While aspirational, it applies to both the states and the federal government. The proposed ban on late-term abortion also implies federal as well as state action.”

The new platform language also affirms Trump’s position on Medicare and Social Security as the Republican Party’s stance, saying that Trump “will not cut one penny” from either program. The 2016 platform, in contrast, stated, “We reject the old maxim that Social Security is the ‘Third Rail’ of American politics” and that “all options should be considered to preserve Social Security.”

Notably, the platform also eliminated language supporting statehood for Puerto Rico, something that has been a staple of Republican platform language for decades.

The platform appears explicitly geared toward winning in 2024 rather than outlining a broader vision for the Republican Party. The first two chapters are devoted to the issues that Trump wants to make central to this race: inflation and immigration.

The platform committee is meeting in Milwaukee on Monday ahead of the full convention next week. Following the committee’s vote to approve the document, the platform will head to a full vote next week.

c.2024 The New York Times Company

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