Christian conservative groups launch effort to keep pro-life planks in GOP platform

Fiserv Forum is pictured decorated for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 1, 2024. The city of Milwaukee will host the 2024 Republican Convention at Fiserv Forum which will run from July 15 through July 18.
Fiserv Forum is pictured decorated for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 1, 2024. The city of Milwaukee will host the 2024 Republican Convention at Fiserv Forum which will run from July 15 through July 18. | TANNEN MAURY/AFP via Getty Images

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A coalition of Christian conservative activist organizations has joined together in a bid to preserve the pro-life planks of the Republican Party platform as differences have emerged between former President Donald Trump and advocates on the abortion issue.

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The Washington-based Family Research Council announced the Platform Integrity Project this week ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, which is scheduled to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, later this month.

Announced Tuesday, the project seeks to preserve issues of "life and family values" in the party platform ahead of former Trump's expected coronation as the Republican's 2024 nominee for president. Trump and pro-life advocates have not seen eye-to-eye on whether Republicans should push for federal restrictions on abortion, with Trump believing the issue should be left up to states. 

The Platform Integrity Project is a partnership between the Family Research Council and several other Christian and conservative advocacy groups, including WallBuilders, the American Principles Project, the Family Policy Alliance, Eagle Forum, the Danbury Institute and the Center for Christian Virtue among others. 

The initiative encourages the public to pray for Republican National Committee delegates to preserve the "strong pro-life, pro-family and pro-freedom" elements of the Republican platform as they meet to draft a new platform in Milwaukee from July 8-9.

The project seeks to collaborate with the RNC and the Trump campaign to create an "open process that will help ensure the preservation of the GOP's solidly conservative platform, which contains longstanding pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Israel planks."

As part of the effort, for the first time ever, individual votes of platform delegates will be scored as a way to track how delegates vote.

"Party platforms matter," said FRC President Tony Perkins in a statement. "They state a party's principles and priorities. According to research by Dr. Lee Payne, the parties actually follow their platforms. Between 1980 and 2004, Republican lawmakers followed their platform 82 percent of the time."

"America is an unprecedented place of moral and cultural confusion and is in dire need of leadership and moral clarity," he added. "The Republican Party must once again communicate a clear and hopeful contrast between the parties by painting a message for voters on the foundational issues — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not in pale pastels but in bright, bold colors."

Insisting that "voters need to see a contrast between the two parties on their policy priorities," Perkins declared, "voters want and need a choice." He told the platform committee to "preserve life and families in the Republican Party platform so that social conservatives can continue to find a home in the GOP."

Perkins, an elected RNC delegate from Louisiana chosen to serve on the platform committee, wrote a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley Monday that highlighted his concerns about the possible omission of pro-life principles from the Republican platform and the process behind its crafting as a whole. 

In the letter, Perkins expressed opposition to what he called "the RNC Gag Rule," which he explained "restricts access to the deliberations of various committees and subcommittees only to the credentialed delegates of those committees."

Characterizing the "Gag Rule" as an "unprecedented" apparent violation of RNC rules, Perkins warned that "based on the limited communications delegates have received, it appears that neither guests nor the press will be allowed to observe the platform committee or subcommitttee decisions of the Party's principles and policy priorities."

"The RNC Gag Rule heightens speculation that the GOP platform will be watered down to a few pages of meaningless, poll-tested talking points," he lamented.

Perkins cited such a scenario as an unwelcome contrast to "Ronald Reagan's call for a party platform, 'a banner of bold, unmistakable colors with no pale pastels,' challenging the nation with a clear vision for the future." He identified "bold principles on life, family, and freedom" as positions that "served the GOP well for over a half-century, starkly contrasting with the other Party and attracting many God-fearing Americans to the GOP."

"There is great concern that the foundational efforts of patriots like Phyllis Schlafly and countless others who have built the Republican Party into a majority pro-life, pro-family, pro-ordered liberty party will be undermined by these unprecedented changes in the process," he wrote.

Perkins said he attempted to "resolve these concerns privately" and characterized the responses he had received thus far as "stalling tactics." Perkins requested a formal response by 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Perkins informed Whatley, "If the RNC Gag Rule is not removed and the committee and subcommittee process made open and fair by 10 am tomorrow, I will be forced to escalate this matter to all stakeholders in the GOP platform." 

"I understand that raising these concerns might make me the proverbial skunk at the wedding," he added. "However, I cannot forever hold my peace and remain silent when the Party that so many patriots have sacrificed to build is about to adopt a process that is not befitting of the Grand Ole Party. This process will likely result in an outcome that jeopardizes the Party's ability to continue being a stabilizing force for freedom in this nation, as it has been for nearly 175 years."

Perkins formally requested the rejection of the "Gag Rule." He said that if the committee decided to "proceed," he would like to see "the RNC meeting minutes that recorded the motion and the vote, which allowed this unprecedented Gag Rule to be implemented."

"The voice of the conservative movement has been throttled back more than ever before," Perkins told The Christian Post in an interview.  He said he remains committed to ensuring that the Republican Party does not commit "self-harm" by watering down its pro-life positions. 

The concerns about the Republican Party's position on abortion stem from Trump's insistence that abortion should be left up to the states following the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, which determined that the U.S. Constitution does not contain a right to abortion. The ruling enabled states to enact restrictions or near-total bans on abortion.

Pro-life advocacy groups have repeatedly countered that the federal government has the right to pass laws restricting abortion, or what some call "federal minimum protections for the unborn."

"What's being stated now is different than what was stated in 2016 in that this is simply a state issue," Perkins told CP.

He believes Trump's position diverges from that which is traditionally embraced by the pro-life movement, namely that all human life deserves to be protected. Additionally, Perkins rejected the idea that abortion can only be a state issue in light of the prevalence of the abortion pill, which is often times sent across state lines. 

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national grassroots pro-life activist organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, asserted in a statement Tuesday that a decision to "remove national protections for the unborn in the GOP platform" would amount to a "miscalculation that would hurt party unity and destroy pro-life enthusiasm between now and the election."

"For over a month, the pro-life movement has sought assurances from the Trump campaign that it will not gut the pro-life plank of the platform, which has for 40 years asserted a 14th Amendment justification for opposing the human rights tragedy of our time," she said. "We are now just two business days away from the platform committee meeting and no assurances have been made."

Echoing Perkins' concerns that "every indication is that the campaign will muscle through changes behind closed doors," Dannenfelser stated, "passionate pro-life activists have been the grassroots backbone of the Republican Party" for decades. She warned that "this alliance is at risk of being severely weakened next week in Milwaukee."

In a letter to Trump last month, Perkins and Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed asked that language in the Republican platform calling for the establishment of a "fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed" for unborn babies remain in the platform, Reuters reported. 

Their letter also pushed for legislation granting rights to unborn babies under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the passage of a Human Life Amendment prohibiting abortion. 

As highlighted in a comparison of the two parties' platforms compiled by the Family Research Council, the Republican Party platform currently contains language indicating that it is "[P]roud to be the party that protects human life and offers real solutions for women" and "strongly oppose[s] infanticide." Examples of pro-life legislation supported in the Republican platform include federal protections for babies who survive botched abortion attempts and prohibitions on abortion based on sex or disability.

Additional pro-life protections embraced by the GOP include a ban on dismemberment abortions where "unborn babies are literally torn apart limb from limb," safety regulations for abortion clinics, a prohibition on human cloning and acts of experimentation on human embryos including three-parent embryos, a ban on the sale of aborted baby body parts and a law prohibiting the "use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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