GOP Panel Keeps Platform Pro-Life
Scully, Sean, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
PHILADELPHIA - Members of the Republican platform committee yesterday defeated an effort to water down the party's stance against abortion, voting overwhelmingly to retain the position from the 1996 platform.
"It is left to the Republicans - the heartless Republicans - to care about the defenseless unborn," said Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, a member of the platform committee and the party's leading pro-life spokesman. "I think saving a child is a very noble goal."
The draft 2000 platform, like its predecessor, says that "an unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."
It calls for a "human life constitutional amendment" and appointing judges "who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life."
In other convention moves yesterday, a seperate party committee scuttled a plan to stretch the presidential primary calendar to let small states vote first after aides to presumptive presidential nominee George W. Bush rallied opposition to the plan.
In a 66-33 vote, the rules committee of the Republican National Convention rejected the plan in favor of the party's current primary procedures.
"It was too much, too fast," said Tom Rath, a delegate from New Hampshire who opposed the plan because it had no New Hampshire-first provision. Delegates from the big states that would have voted last also opposed the move.
On abortion, a handful of pro-choice platform committee members tried to remove the abortion language from the document, saying both political parties should be silent on the issue. They argue that the strong stand in the 1996 platform hurt the party with centrist Republicans and independents.
The platform "does not reflect the opinions and beliefs of thousands and thousands of pro-choice women, of thousands of pro-choice men and women who are part of the Republican Party," said Toni Casey, a platform delegate from California. "They deserve a voice in this platform."
After the platform committee on a voice vote rejected that proposal, the pro-choice faction tried to add a sentence acknowledging that there is disagreement in the party and welcoming voters on either side.
"This should be an open and Democratic process," said pro-choice member Maureen Barrows of New Hampshire. "I don't think we have that with the pro-life movement speaking as vocally as they usually do."
The committee defeated that also, saying the document already embraces those with dissenting views on any topic in a general introduction to the section on family issues. …