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2024 RNC platform could alter the GOPs abortion position for the first time in decades

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(WASHINGTON) — The Republican National Committee is drafting a 2024 party platform that may usher in changes to the GOP’s positions on key issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration — reforms that will likely reflect the beliefs of their leader: former President Donald Trump, platform committee members and Trump allies said.

In 2016, the Republican Party — on their way to nominating Trump for the first time — adopted a strict, conservative platform around issues of gender and sexual orientation against the efforts by some of the party’s more moderate faction to soften that language. An identical platform was approved in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for party committees to convene and adjust language. Trump, during that convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, was chosen as the party’s nominee for a second time.

A political party’s platform distinctly outlines its positions on foreign and domestic policies, but it is not binding and doesn’t directly impact the work of elected officials or candidates. That platform, which Trump ran on in 2016 and 2020, supports legislation that would impose a 20-week federal abortion ban. The Republican platform since the 1980s has articulated support for a constitutional amendment that would assert the sanctity and protection of human life, extending to unborn children.

Now, in 2024, the GOP will convene to write the first platform since the Dobbs decision overturned the constitutional right to an abortion over two years ago. The plank could play an outsized role in establishing the ideals of a party reinvented by the former president, who has been clear about his opposition to a federal ban and his preference for this issue to be left up to the states.

Trump’s position on reproductive rights has worried some anti-abortion activists and RNC members who have expressed concern that the call for a “right to life” amendment would be stripped from the platform this year.

The former president’s top advisers are planning to overhaul and reduce the platform so that it will be “in line” with the former president’s “vision for America’s future,” according to a memo sent to the party’s platform committee in June, that was obtained by ABC News.

“He won [2024 primary elections] in a historic fashion,” a senior Trump adviser told ABC News.

“He is the party. But it also reflects the will of voters,” the adviser added. “I anticipate some of that will be in the platform.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the top contenders to be Trump’s running mate, on CNN Sunday, backed stripping the abortion ban from the GOP platform.

“Well, I think our platform has to reflect our nominee, and our nominee’s position actually happens to be one grounded in reality,” Rubio said. “The reality of it is the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And what that basically means is that now it’s not states; it’s voters at individual states who will get to decide how and to what level they want to restrict abortion, if at all. Some states will have restrictions. Some states will not. And so, I hope that our platform will reflect our nominee.”

Draft language for a new platform has not yet been circulated to most platform committee members or general RNC members yet, according to several people familiar with the process, though a number of conversations and lobbying on the issues with Trump allies have been ongoing among leaders of key advocacy groups and with some individuals.

The platform committee began convening in Milwaukee on the evening of July 7 and has meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, according to a schedule shared with ABC News. What the committee and full membership adopt will then be unveiled to the full RNC at their national convention beginning on July 15 in Milwaukee.

For weeks, some more socially conservative RNC members and leading anti-abortion groups have been vocal about any platform deliberations that might water down the party’s stance on abortion.

But those efforts reached a fever pitch this week. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who sits on the RNC’s platform committee, has said he will lead an effort to put together a “minority report” on the platform should the committee soften abortion language — something he claims will happen.

The Family Research Council, in conjunction with dozens of other conservative groups, just launched a “Platform Integrity Project” which “seeks to work with the RNC and the Trump campaign for an open process that will help ensure the preservation of the GOP’s solidly conservative platform that contains longstanding pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Israel planks.”

“[The call for a right to life amendment] is not going to be in the draft platform,” Perkins said on Newsmax this week, noting that the softer language on reproductive rights might impact the 2024 election because he claimed most of the Republican base was staunchly anti-abortion.

“I think it’s going to — it’s going to dampen the enthusiasm. It’s not going to turn people to the other side. That’s not going to happen. But elections are driven by the energy and the enthusiasm – the intensity. This dampens the intensity. That’s the last thing we need,” he added.

Yet one source familiar with platform deliberations told ABC News that much of the alarm is overblown, furthering that some see any change as a complete reconfiguration of the party’s beliefs, which the source flatly denies.

The source says the RNC will use Trump’s recent language on abortion, which he repeated during last month’s debate, as their guide.

“My belief is the loud voices are few and will not be more than a squeaky wheel in the end. A vast majority,” the source said.

Other Republicans have expressed optimism that Trump’s stances could be reflected in the platform.

“President Trump was the first president who supported marriage equality when elected and has repeatedly stated that it’s a settled issue. Given polling of that issue of both Americans and Republicans, it is settled. I would hope any attempts to “define marriage” in the RNC Platform would go by the wayside in 2024 to make it current with the national sentiment…and the law,” said Charles Moran, a Trump delegate in 2016 and 2020 who is the president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a national conservative organization that supports gay and lesbian rights.

The current RNC platform says the party would “respect the authority of the states to decide such fundamental social questions” on issues like marriage, which is “between one man and one woman.”

Ahead of the platform deliberations, several RNC members have also raised concerns over the fact that these critical committee meetings will be closed to the press and non-committee members — a move they say will suppress the will of general party members so that Trump-aligned actors could institute changes without pushback.

Two emails sent by the RNC’s member services account and reviewed by ABC News outline the policy, which several party members said has not been a practice at former conventions.

“In years past, the place was crawling with lobbyists and special interest groups trying to get specific line items for their clients on platform,” a source familiar with the decision to close the meetings said to ABC News.

In opposition to this decision, Perkins circulated a letter (which ABC News has reviewed) addressed to RNC Chair Michael Whatley that calls upon party leadership to “lift this gag order and reinstate the normal procedure of allowing approved guests and media so that fellow conservatives can observe and participate in this important process.”

“A major issue is the fact that it appears that the RNC and the Trump campaign do not want to allow C-SPAN or anyone else to cover the committee hearings,” one member of another powerful committee — the rules committee — told ABC News.

“This would be a great mistake as being live on TV helps not only keep everyone accountable but it also helps keep people civil. Committee hearings behind closed doors will easily descend into accusations and name-calling. Many members of the committees will feel free behind closed doors to let their hair down and tell the Trump social liberal spokesmen to go to hell,” the member added.

–ABC News’ Brittany Shepherd and Hannah Demissie contributed to this report. 

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