Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump asserted he would “absolutely” change the Republican Party’s platform opposing abortion — to ensure exceptions.
Most recent Republican presidential nominees have opposed abortion but have made exceptions of for cases when the life of the mother might be at stake or if the unborn baby was conceived through rape or incest. However, since those past nominees haven’t sought to change the platform language, abortion opponents are now concerned about Trump's rhetoric.
On NBC's "Today" Thursday, Trump was asked, “Would you want to change the Republican platform so that exceptions would be made on abortions in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother?”
Trump was clear in his answer.
“Yes, I would. Absolutely, for the three exceptions, I would,” he said.
Trump didn’t go beyond those exceptions. He was also asked, “Would you have an exception for the health of the mother?”
“I would leave it for the life of the mother, but I would absolutely have the three exceptions,” Trump said.
Since 1980, the Republican Party platform has included a "Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life" plank. National delegates have kept the plank in every subsequent convention.
Republican nominees John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 both supported a right to life amendment, with the same three exceptions. However, neither candidate sought to change the party platform's language, as Trump has.
“Thanks to the good work of people like Phyllis Schlafly, the Republican Platform has always been solidly pro-life even when Republican candidates have not been,” said Tom McClusky of March for Life Action, in a statement.
Schlafly made a controversial endorsement of Trump earlier this year.
Trump previously has said he was pro-abortion rights and then opposed abortion when he ran for president. However, he still vehemently supports federal tax dollars funding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
McClusky has worked behind the scenes on the pro-life platform at conventions.
“The platform sets the standard that all candidates need to work from, and the suggestion that the platform should weaken its position on the pro-life issue would set back years of hard work in the pro-life movement,” McClusky said.
James Bopp, an attorney who helped developed the anti-abortion plank in 1980, said the platform is broad and leaves it to the legislature and public to determine what the exceptions would be.
“The Republican Party plank endorsing a Human Life Amendment does not take a position on which version of a Human Life Amendment should eventually be adopted,” Bopp told Life News. “We leave that decision to Congress and the people of the United States at that time. Thus, we do not take a position on which exceptions should be included in a Human Life Amendment.”
The “Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life” language of the Republican platform currently reads:
Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions – gender discrimination in its most lethal form – and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.