The Republican Party plans to soften its electoral stance on abortion and give up a federal veto due to pressure from Trump

The Republican National Committee has adopted a platform document that reflects former President Donald Trump’s stance against a federal abortion ban and in favor of leaving it up to the states, omitting an explicit promise of a national ban for the first time in 40 years.

The committee, according to two people briefed on the document, agreed on the following text: “We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that no person may be denied life or liberty without due process and that states are therefore free to pass laws protecting those rights.” The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Trump is seeking to impose his priorities on the committee and move away from strict language on abortion, even though he takes credit for the Supreme Court’s 2022 reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling by appointing three of the six justices in the conservative majority who struck down the 1973 federal protection.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, praised the committee for reaffirming “its commitment to protecting unborn life through the 14th Amendment,” but stopped short of fully endorsing Trump’s proposal that states regulate this right: “Under this amendment, it is Congress that enacts and enforces its provisions.”

The Republican National Committee’s platform is a statement of principles traditionally drafted by party activists. But the Trump campaign wants the group to produce a shorter document this year that excludes statements favored by many conservatives but potentially unpopular with the general electorate.

The platform committee began its meeting on Monday, a week before the start of the Republican National Convention in Wisconsin, where Trump is expected to confirm his third consecutive nomination for president.

Trump has faced months of Democratic criticism over abortion, as the reelection campaign of the president, Democrat Joe Biden, has highlighted that Trump nominated half of the Supreme Court majority that struck down abortion rights nationwide in 2022. But among vocal abortion opponents on the platform committee, some say the aspiration for a federal ban after a certain stage of pregnancy should remain a party principle, even if it is not an immediately achievable policy or one that would necessarily help Trump’s campaign win in November.

“I find it problematic. We still need these principles to be clearly stated. Some of these battles are not over,” said Representative Brad Sherman, a member of the platform committee who supported Trump’s campaign in the Iowa caucus in January and who supports a federal abortion law.

While the abortion statement is likely to be the most controversial provision of the platform, there may also be disputes over Trump’s preference for tariffs and his isolationist approach to foreign policy and U.S. involvement in global conflicts, particularly in helping Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Conservative activists who are used to having a seat at the table expressed anger at what they described as a secretive process for selecting committee members and the meeting that took place behind closed doors.

“For 40 years, the Republican Party and its platform have benefited massively from an open and transparent process,” said Tim Chapman, incoming president of Advancing American Freedom, a foundation run by Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, who challenged him in this year’s primary process.

The Trump campaign has sought to reshape the Republican National Committee into a campaign tool. Campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles noted in a memo this month that “our platforms are scrutinized and intentionally misrepresented by our political opponents.”

Trump ally Russ Vought serves as policy director for the Republican Party’s platform-writing committee while also leading the effort to draft the 180-day agenda for Project 2025, a sweeping proposal to remake the government that Trump said Friday he knew “nothing” about despite having several former aides involved.

Trump had supported federal legislation in 2018 that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, though the measure failed to gain the necessary support in the Senate.

Following the 2022 midterm elections, however, Trump blamed Republicans who held strict anti-abortion stances for the party’s failure to secure a larger majority in the House of Representatives. He has since criticized stricter abortion bans in individual states.

An AP-NORC poll conducted in June 2023 found that nearly two-thirds of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The poll also found that 6 in 10 Americans think Congress should pass legislation guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.

Biden’s campaign has criticized Republicans for keeping platform committee meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, closed to the media and reminded voters of Trump’s support for banning abortions at 20 weeks.

Tamara Scott, who is one of two Republican National Committee members from Iowa and also a member of the platform committee, said Trump could campaign on his current position and also adopt the platform to reflect a longer-term goal of a federal cap.

“It’s our vision. It’s our founding principles. It’s who we are as a party,” Scott said. “I agree that a platform should be clear and concise, but it should convey our core principles.”

For several committee members, that means maintaining support for “an amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment apply to children before birth,” a passage first included in 1984.

Trump was urged to keep that passage in the platform, according to a letter signed by leaders of anti-abortion groups, including Dannenfelser; Ralph Reed, founder and president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

That passage, once removed, would be difficult to restore in future platforms, Dannenfelser said. “The platform’s conversation is about the future. It’s about presidential campaigns 10 years from now, and Senate campaigns and House campaigns, and Republican campaigns everywhere,” Dannenfelser added. “It’s not just about this election. That’s why it’s important.”