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At Trump’s insistence, GOP’s abortion platform reflects ‘CT values’

The March for Life, a national anti-abortion organization, staged a rally for the first time in Connecticut as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed reversing Roe in March 2022.
Yehyun Kim
CT Mirror
The March for Life, a national anti-abortion organization, staged a rally for the first time in Connecticut as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed reversing Roe in March 2022.

The political interests of Donald J. Trump and blue-state Republicans aligned Monday in a Republican platform provision supporting a woman’s right to the in vitro fertilization treatments opposed by some evangelicals in the anti-abortion movement.

The platform dictated by the Trump campaign ends the GOP’s longstanding call for a national ban on abortion, instead embracing the post-Roe v. Wade reality that returned decisions over abortion restrictions to the states. It also endorses the use of IVF treatments that can result in the destruction of unused embryos.

Ben Proto, the Connecticut Republican chair and a member of the platform committee, said he expected the softer language on reproductive rights demanded by the Trump campaign will be welcomed in northeastern states.

“That provision is very reflective of Connecticut values,” Proto said.

Proto and Leora Levy, another Connecticut Republican on the platform committee, both supported Trump’s platform language in a meeting in Milwaukee, where the Republican National Convention opens Monday.

The platform hardly blurs the bright line separating Trump from President Joe Biden on abortion: The Republican challenger celebrates the reversal of Roe, while the Democratic incumbent favors the restoration of a national right to abortion access.

But GOP platforms often have been deeply problematic for northeastern Republicans by deferring to red states in branding the GOP as deeply conservative on social issues, abortion among them.

Connecticut has codified in state law the general tenets of Roe, the landmark decision that for nearly 50 years had guaranteed a woman’s right to abortion prior to fetal viability.

Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, a leader in a General Assembly reproductive rights caucus dominated by Democrats, said the new GOP language was a tactical retreat, not a statement of principles.

“The Republican Party is the party that overturned Roe,” a decision that has sparked a backlash, Gilchrest said. “I see this as a strategical political move and nothing more.”

Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour, one of the Republican women in the reproductive rights caucus, said Connecticut’s law should remain intact and she welcomed the platform change.

“A woman has a right to choose,” said Klarides-Ditria, who is not attending the convention. “Anything that supports that, I think is good.”

Her sister, former Rep. Themis Klarides, lost a U.S. Senate primary to Levy in 2022. One of the wedge issues was Klarides’ support of abortion rights and Levy’s opposition.

“Despite my personal views, abortion is a state issue and I do not support a federal ban, which was my position when I ran for U.S. Senate,” Levy said. “I hope to continue to work to change people’s hearts and minds on the issue and to support women who need support to give their precious babies the gift of life.”

Levy said she opposes abortions with the exceptions of cases involving rape, incest or threats to the life of a pregnant woman. She has no objections to IVF treatments, which became a flashpoint this year for many in the anti-abortion movement.

Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination, voted last month to oppose in vitro fertilization, breaking with many of its adherents.

The GOP’s sensitivity to a backlash by abortion opponents on the new abortion language was reflected in a motion Proto made at the behest of the Trump campaign: The securing of smart phones and other digital devices during the committee meeting.

Proto acknowledged that the motion was a defensive measure against digital lobbying by abortion opponents during the closed proceedings. Proto also made a motion to “call the question,” limiting the ability of opponents to turn the tide during a protracted debate.

The Republican Party has had anti-abortion planks since 1976, with Democrats pledging support for a woman’s right to choose.

This story was originally published by The Connecticut Mirror.

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