The RNC Didn’t ‘Soften’ Its Abortion Stance in Trump-Backed Platform

Trump’s hand-picked committee members are anti-abortion extremists with deep ties to Project 2025, and their new platform uses the 14th Amendment to call for fetal personhood. 

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The RNC Didn’t ‘Soften’ Its Abortion Stance in Trump-Backed Platform

On Monday, the Republican National Committee adopted former President Trump’s official 2024 platform. And almost as conspicuous as the sprawling, child-like, all-caps assertions and blatant lies that read exactly like Trump tweets, is what appears to be missing: abortion. The most recent party platform, adopted in 2016, included the word “abortion” 35 times and called for a national ban. This year, the word appears just once on the second-to-last page of the 16-page document—without any references to the issue in the platform’s 20-point preamble, and with no direct mention of a ban. 

But don’t be fooled, and take any headline—about how Trump and the GOP have “softened” their abortion stance—with a serious grain of salt. All the new platform proves is that Trump and his party recognize the deep unpopularity of their abortion bans, given how every poll and almost every electoral outcome since the Supreme Court (thanks to Trump!) killed Roe v. Wade shows voters strongly support abortion rights. And even if the platform barely mentions abortion directly, it speaks for itself that Trump appointed anti-abortion extremists—many of whom have direct ties to Project 2025—to the committee. This isn’t insignificant—in 2016, many of the platform committee members went on to work for Trump’s administration.

Despite the Republican Party’s attempts to conceal its real abortion agenda by omission, the committee members’ records—and their almost inevitable roles in a hypothetical Trump administration—speak volumes. Plus, the platform itself is still rife with code words that present as moderate while being anything but. Near the end of the platform, it states: 

Republicans Will Protect and Defend a Vote of the People, from within the States, on the Issue of Life We proudly stand for families and Life. 

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. After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the States and to a vote of the People. We will oppose Late Term Abortion, while supporting mothers and policies that advance Prenatal Care, access to Birth Control, and IVF (fertility treatments). 

It’s hard to know where to start with unpacking this. First, the reference to the 14th Amendment signals support for fetal personhood—anti-abortion politicians have long pushed for embryos and fetuses to be recognized as citizens under that amendment, with all the rights of citizens. As for the nod to states determining their own abortion laws, that’s what’s currently happening—and it’s the reason tens of thousands are being forced to spend massive amounts of money to travel out-of-state for basic health care, why infant mortality is on the rise, why dozens of women have sued their states for endangering their lives.

Then, there’s the stigmatizing phrase “late-term abortion,” as the RNC makes clear it would support a national abortion ban, supposedly just for later abortions. But an abortion ban is an abortion ban, period. As for the stated support for birth control and IVF—come on. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly struck down nonpartisan efforts to codify rights to both, as recently as June. Several Republicans have even equated or compared certain contraceptives as well as IVF with abortion, consequently endangering our rights to both. Trump himself suggested he was open to birth control restrictions in May, and in his first term, took several steps including defunding family planning organizations to make birth control less accessible. 

Most tellingly, anti-abortion leaders seem happy with the agenda: SBA Pro-Life America pointed to the platform’s call for rights for the unborn, telling CNN in a statement that it reaffirms the party’s “commitment to protect life through the 14th Amendment.” Meanwhile, Students for Life Action’s Kristan Hawkins called the 14th Amendment language “the most significant contribution” the platform makes toward ending abortion.

“The GOP wants to ban abortion nationwide—and their platform shows that they’ll try to use the 14th Amendment to do it,”  Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly NARAL) President and CEO Mini Timmaraju said in a Monday statement shared with Jezebel. “Voters don’t want abortion bans—Republicans know it and this plan shows just how desperate Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans are to do anything they can to strip away our reproductive freedom.”

But let’s circle back to who Trump appointed to be the one male and one female representative from each U.S. state on the committee. Last week, multiple reports highlighted the anti-abortion extremism of Ed Martin, the committee’s deputy policy director who’s advocated for abortion patients to be jailed, opposes rape exceptions (even for children), and wants a national abortion ban. Other committee members include Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who’s lied that Planned Parenthood “sells baby parts” and railed against the Supreme Court decision that created a right to birth control. Russ Vought, committee policy director, has advocated for the Comstock Act, the zombie law that offers a direct path to circumvent Congress and ban abortion—in May, his organization, the Center for Renewing America, called for lawmakers to “bolster” the law as a means to “prohibit” medication abortion.

Even scarier, most of the committee members are directly tied to Project 2025, the 900-page plan for an authoritarian Trump presidency, which includes instructions on how to ban abortion and generally ruin pregnant and LGBTQ people’s lives. It was overseen by the Heritage Foundation, a far-right organization whose president, Kevin Roberts, last week appeared to call for a fascist takeover via Civil War: “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” he said. By Friday, Trump tried to distance himself from the organization and Project 2025, claiming in a Truth Social post that he “[knows] nothing about Project 2025,” “[has] no idea who is behind it,” and “[disagrees] with some of the things they’re saying.”

That’s bullshit. Tony Perkins, another platform committee member picked by Trump, serves as president of the far-right Family Research Council, which is an advisory board member to Project 2025. Martin is president of the conservative Eagle Forum Education—also an advisory board member of Project 2025. David Barton, a Texas anti-abortion lawmaker and committee member, works closely with Turning Point USA, which is also an advisory member. Blackburn has deep ties to the Heritage Foundation. Kevin Marino Cabrera, another committee member, works for the America First Policy Institute, tasked with helping to implement Project 2025. And Vought literally helped write Project 2025. Again, in 2016, many of the platform committee members were nominated or went on to work for Trump’s administration, including Kris Kobach, Andrew Puzder, Andrew Bremberg, and John Bolton.

Of course, you wouldn’t glean any of this from the coverage we’re seeing. “Following Trump’s Lead, Republicans Adopt Platform That Softens Stance on Abortion,” reads one New York Times headline from Monday. “GOP adopts platform that softens language on abortion, same-sex marriage,” says the Washington Post. “RNC approves Trump-centric platform with softened language on abortion,” a Hill headline statesRoll Call and CNBC similarly characterize the party’s abortion stance as “softened” in their headlines. “New Trump-Backed GOP Platform Drops 40-Year-Old Call For National Abortion Restrictions,” reads a Forbes headline, which ignores that, whether the party explicitly calls for a ban or not, that is the GOP’s M.O. Just look at the recent state-level Republican Party platforms that have been ratified: The Texas Republican Party wants to criminalize IVF, and appears to want the death penalty for abortion patients, while the North Carolina and Idaho parties similarly recognize IVF as murder.

Democratic National Committee press secretary Emilia Rowland said in a statement shared with Jezebel that the RNC platform shows Trump is “desperate to distance himself from Project 2025.” She continued, “The reality is that Trump literally put architects of Project 2025 in charge of the Republican platform, and the result is not only the most extreme platform in GOP history but one containing lie after lie. … Trump wants a nationwide abortion ban.”

Trump has spent months trying to both take credit for killing Roe and verbally distance himself from abortion bans, but even still, he can’t help but make comments like calling state abortion bans “beautiful” or claiming that getting rid of Roe made states “more liberal.” As recently as April, he said he’d support states’ surveilling and punishing abortion patients.

Rolling into the Republican National Convention on July 15, expect him and the GOP to continue distancing themselves from the violence and unpopularity of their abortion position—and expect legacy media to buy into this nonsense. It doesn’t change the truth: that Trump would ban abortion, and the far-right party platform committee writers were hand-picked to help him do so.

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