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The Next Republican Party Platform Might Skip a National Abortion Ban

Anti-abortion activists are preparing for a fight to keep language in the official party platform that calls for the federal government to restrict abortion.

Election 2024 Trump Abortion
Former President Donald Trump has said state should set abortion restrictions. Rick Scuteri/AP

The Republican platform is likely to be amended this summer to reflect President Donald Trump’s position that abortion policy should be left to the states — a departure from decades of party doctrine, two sources told NOTUS. And anti-abortion activists are already raising the alarm.

“Some of the former president’s statements in the past few months have us very concerned,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told NOTUS.

The Republican Party’s platform has contained language since 1980 calling for the “protection of the right to life for unborn children” through a constitutional amendment. The current version, which was last revised in the 2016 Republican National Convention, states that the party supports “a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the [14th] Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.” The platform calls on Congress to pass at least a 20-week federal ban.

After skipping a platform update in 2020, the party is expected to adopt a new version at this year’s Republican National Convention. A source familiar with the matter believes the RNC’s new platform will be changed this year to reflect Trump’s current view that states should set their own abortion policy.

Another source familiar said that while they couldn’t definitively say what changes will be made, the Trump campaign expects that the platform “may be changed to reflect Trump’s policy and viewpoints, but more importantly, it will reflect the viewpoints of the voters who chose him in historic fashion.”

“We’re a unified party under President Trump in a way Democrats have not come together and in a way that is historic coming out of a competitive primary,” the source said.

The committee in charge of outlining the GOP’s principles is being led by three Trump allies — Russ Vought, Randy Evans and Ed Martin — guaranteeing that the former president’s vision will continue to lead the party. Vought, Evans and Martin did not respond to NOTUS’ requests for comment.

Anti-abortion advocates told NOTUS that the party’s platform needs to be revisited, particularly since it now needs to reflect the fall of Roe. However, many of them are concerned about how the abortion language could change.

“Across the board, we really need to update the platform and insert a lot of the issues that Republican candidates and even Donald Trump are talking about on the campaign trail,” said Jon Schweppe, director of policy for the conservative American Principles Project.

But he added, “On abortion, you know, I know there’s been discussion about changing it, and I really hope they don’t do that because that language has been there for decades.”

Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, said it’s important that the platform include strong anti-abortion language because it applies to all candidates, not just the presidential hopeful.

“We will stand firm to make sure that life is well represented in the Republican platform, as it has always been,” she told NOTUS.

Nance said women from her organization and other outside groups will be part of the platform committee, which is made up of one man and one woman from each state and territory.

“The whole pro-life movement is very intent in making sure they’re represented in the platform committee. So, I suspect that at the end of the day, there may be some ruffled feathers during the process,” Nance added. “We’re going to work hard for what we believe to be true, and we hope and believe that we’ll be successful.”

Abortion rights advocates expect Republicans will “clean up their platform,” Mini Timmaraju, president of Reproductive Freedom for All, formerly known as NARAL, told reporters last week. But she predicted the GOP would try to ban abortion nationwide even if its platform calls for a state-by-state approach.

“I think the Republicans really want to hide their positions, right? They’re working overtime to do that,” she said. “They can’t help themselves — they’re really extreme.”

Others within the anti-abortion movement say they don’t think the platform will change considering how long the language has been around.

“Our expectation is that the GOP platform will continue to unequivocally call for national protections for unborn children, rooted in the 14th Amendment,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said in a statement. (The Constitution’s 14th Amendment bans states from denying “equal protection of the laws” to “any person,” which anti-abortion advocates argue includes fetuses and embryos.)

“Watering down the GOP platform’s stance on life would entail an abandonment of its defense of the human dignity of all people,” she continued.

Oriana González and Reese Gorman are reporters at NOTUS.