Gop Poised To Urge Ban On Abortion -- Conservative Platform Would Also Denounce Homosexuality, Witchcraft
YAKIMA - Despite a plea to moderate its stand on abortion, the Washington Republican Party appears poised to go well beyond its 1990 position and call for an outright U.S. constitutional ban, even in cases of incest and rape.
Tomorrow, delegates to the state Republican Party convention will consider a 1992 platform that also urges schools to teach the basics of "mainstream American culture and mores" - a less-inflammatory version of an earlier proposal to oppose "globalism that teaches that all cultures are of equal merit."
And the platform, which officially defines what Republicans stand for, flatly denounces such things as homosexuality and sex education as well as public-school classes that encourage the practice of witchcraft and "channeling," which some people believe allows them to communicate with spirits.
Property rights and a concern about the American family - two hot-button political issues - also are getting high attention from Republicans this year.
Not surprisingly, the most heated discussion and emotion has centered on abortion. For the first time, the state platform committee yesterday heard public testimony on the issue.
"We as Republicans have a winning platform . . . and we have a responsibility to protect the pro-life plank," said Cathy Mickels, co-chair of the Washington chapter of Republicans for Life.
She called Republicans who support abortion rights - and who have received a significant amount of media attention in recent weeks - "a very small, vocal minority in the Republican Party."
"They make a lot of noise, but they don't have the votes," Mickels said.
But Jerry Kroon, director of the Washington Republican Coalition for Choice, argued that it's the GOP that could end up losing at the ballot box by maintaining an anti-abortion plank.
"Our party must be responsible and accountable to the mandate of its pro-choice majority and the American public," Kroon said. "If we aren't, we will continue to lose the support of young voters and women."
Fearful that abortion rights will soon be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, moderate Republicans are breaking ranks with President Bush and the national party. They are seeking a more flexible approach to abortion.
Kroon contended that an anti-abortion stance contradicts the traditional basis of the Republican Party - individual rights and freedom from government interference in private lives.
But the 38-member state platform committee was not convinced. One member was so angered by Kroon's statements that he turned away and refused to look at him.
Republicans who support Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide, are clearly outnumbered at the state convention. Many were not elected as delegates because of their views on what many consider a life-and-death issue, and those who were elected have boycotted it anyway, saying they feel shut out of the party.
The primary issue for delegates is not whether the GOP guidelines ought to favor abortion rights or oppose them, but just how strong they want the anti-abortion language to be.
As proposed, the plank on family reads: "We support the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death, regardless of the state of biological development, age, health or condition of dependency. We reaffirm our commitment to the dignity of every human being and the sanctity of every human life, whether born or preborn."
The GOP section on abortion, if approved, would be a marked contrast to the language adopted two years ago. That 1990 statement also asserted a belief in the "sanctity of life" but called for restrictions on abortion and public funding of it, not an outright ban.
CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE STRONG
A large number of Christian activists have been elected as delegates to the state convention this year, and many of them are pushing for a hard-line position, said Kirby Wilbur, chair of the platform committee.
That push is making Wilbur and other party officials a bit uncomfortable. They worry that this year's party platform could appear to be too radical, not just on abortion but on other issues.
In marked contrast to the 1990 GOP platform, this year's document makes several references to God and the Bible. It also warns against affording too much power to the United Nations and disdains the Federal Reserve System, which issues U.S. dollars.
TOO FAR RIGHT FOR SOME?
"Frankly, there are some things in this platform that I could not go out and publicly defend," said Wilbur, a delegate from Kirkland.
What he and others do stand by is their support for teachings on "Western civilization and culture." Republican leaders were lambasted yesterday for considering a King County proposal that opposed the idea that "all cultures are of equal merit."
About 40 teachers and others protested the proposal outside the Yakima Convention Center yesterday.
U.S. Rep. Sid Morrison of Zillah in Yakima County, a gubernatorial candidate, also has rebuked the Western-civilization statement as being un-Republican.
Members of the state platform committee - all of whom are white - sought to assuage the criticism by saying everyone should "respect minority, ethnic and native cultures which produce mainstream America."
Still, Wilbur and others were obviously irritated by the criticism, particularly from fellow Republicans. "Sid shouldn't go shooting his mouth off when he hasn't even talked to us first," Wilbur said.
Two thousand people are attending the Washington State Republican Party Convention to choose 35 delegates to attend the national convention in Houston in August.
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