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GOP platform subcommittee rejects effort to moderate abortion stance
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- Efforts to moderate the Republican platform opposing abortion without exception failed Friday, but abortion rights advocates said they would try again before the GOP National Convention opens next week or afterward if necessary.
The party opened its platform committee hearings Friday morning, and its family subcommittee rejected two attempts to amend the abortion plank to remove the party's outright opposition to the procedure in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.
The abortion rights advocates said they may try again later Friday to change the platform on abortion and if not successful at the subcommittee level will raise the issue before the full 107-member committee after the convention gets under way next week
The work of all the subcommittees will be assimilated into the GOP's full 2000 platform, perhaps as early as Saturday morning -- a speedy process compared to the sort of platform negotiations seen in conventions past.
The assembled document will then have to be approved by the full platform committee, and later will be presented for the approval of the convention's full slate of delegates.
The Texas governor has expressed a level of comfort with the abortion plank, but has not trumpeted his position -- in an attempt to keep staunch conservatives and party moderates at least partially appeased.
This year's platform, Republicans insist, should not end up open to the same sort of criticism that the 1996 document invited. That year's platform was attacked by GOP critics as sharply partisan, and representative of the party politics practiced by the conservative Republican majority in Congress, led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Bush has sought to pull the party away from the sort of partisan political stances that could leave it open to such attacks. His surrogates and supporters within the party have sought to bolster his vision of a "new Republicanism," and much of that doctrine should trickle into the 2000 platform.
"We want to be uplifting," Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, chairman of the platform committee, said Thursday on CNN. "We want to be visionary and progressive."
Drafters called attention to a section of the party's working document that calls for increased spending for women's health efforts and medical research -- "one of the few areas in which government investment yields tangible results." But, the language adds, "we will promote a health care system that supports, not supplants, the private sector."
Platform drafters insist that such a view, echoed in areas like healthcare, retirement investment and other social programs, illustrates purely Bush's "compassionate conservatism," which aims to keep the federal government involved in social programs and entitlements up to a point. That point, they say, is provide the private sector with enough incentives -- perhaps through tax and regulatory breaks -- to bear much of the burden of many social services.
The platform will be broken into eight basic sections, each featuring a number of subsections.
Those include segments on technology and economic prosperity; education and youth; retirement security and health care, which will include Bush's controversial proposal to allow individuals to invest portions of their Social Security payroll taxes into the stock market; and family and community, which will include the abortion language.
Also featured will be sections on conservation, agriculture and natural resources, which will focus to some degree on private property and land use issues; reform of government and the legal system; and defense and foreign policy.
Friday, July 28, 2000
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