GOP Governor Wants Plank on Abortion Modified or Dropped

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - A Republican governor who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for presidential hopeful George W Bush said he wants the GOP to drop its rigid statement against abortion as outlined in the Republican Party platform.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge said he would like to see the GOP platform plank either dropped or changed to reflect a wider range of Republicans' views on abortion.

"The fact that it fails to recognize that good people could differ is not the best kind of signal that you would want to send, in my judgment," he said.

The platform approved in 1996 says, "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," even in cases of rape or incest. The plank says Republican candidates must agree to appoint only judges who support that view.

However, an appendix entitled "minority views" says, "The Republican Party welcomes individuals on each side of the abortion issue, encourages their open discussion, solicits their active participation in the party, and respects their positions and beliefs."

Ridge says he's not urging anyone to fight for a platform change at this summer's convention in Philadelphia, because there isn't enough support to change it. "I can count the votes," he said, adding, "what the Democrats would love to see is for us to get mired down in this issue."

"The tie that binds the party and 99.999 percent of Republicans is the fact that we are in agreement on probably 90 to 95 percent of the issues. I just wish that would be reflected in the platform. To date it hasn't been, and maybe under Gov. Bush it will be," said Ridge.

Ridge said he has not discussed the platform's abortion language with Bush, who, through a spokeswoman, said he views the abortion plank as "an important statement of pro-life principles." Bush has said he would leave the wording as it is, even though he does not oppose abortion in cases stemming from rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

While Ridge supports the basic right to abortion, he also supports a number of restrictions, something that might make him more palatable to the pro-life movement, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

For instance, Ridge wants to end partial-birth abortion; he supports parental consent requirements and enforced waiting periods, and he opposes any use of government funds for abortions.