Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Abortion a Tense Issue despite Bush Bridging Appeal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Abortion a Tense Issue despite Bush Bridging Appeal

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON-- When Republicans meet in Philadelphia this week to write party policy in advance of their national convention, some of them will be energized by two ideas that are long on conviction, short on practicality and headlong in conflict.

One is that the nation might actually be persuaded to amend the Constitution to ban abortion. Period.

The other is that the GOP might actually be persuaded to stop calling for that goal.

As Associated Press interviews with most of the 2,066 convention delegates show, tension over abortion rights is deeply embedded in the party despite a wish by both sides to avoid an argument that could complicate George W. Bush's chances of becoming president.

The interviews indicate that, once again, anti-abortion forces have the upper hand but also, once again, that they are a minority on the matter of a constitutional ban.

Among the more than 1,800 delegates surveyed, 43 percent said they want the party platform to continue to advocate a ban while 31.5 percent do not. The rest did not know or did not respond.

Among delegates who are also on the platform committee -- the most likely flashpoint of the abortion debate -- proponents of a ban outnumbered the other side by a 3-1 margin, although the views of 43 percent were unknown.

"There is pretty much of a split on the issue," said Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University specialist in abortion politics.

But among those in charge of the convention and platform, "there's an agreement reflecting the views of George W. Bush that this should be kept in the platform, primarily as a way of ensuring the loyalty of the religious right."

Those who oppose calling for a ban in the platform do so for different reasons. Some favor broad abortion rights while others -- notably presidential candidate Bush -- believe abortion should be legal in at least limited cases. …

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