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GOP Leader Acts To Stop Anti-Abortion Plank

By Carin Dessauer/CNN

WASHINGTON (Jan. 6) -- Republican National Chairman Jim Nicholson is alerting the party faithful that he opposes a controversial abortion resolution that the GOP will take up next week, party sources said today.

In a memo to all 165 members of the Republican National Committee, obtained by CNN, Nicholson wrote that although he himself is against so-called partial birth abortions, the party should not set up any litmus tests.

The RNC, at its winter meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., next week, is to take up the resolution that would forbid the RNC and its subcommittees from giving money to any candidate who does not support the idea of outlawing the procedure.

"The question before us is whether we should establish a litmus test and the answer to that is no," wrote Nicholson.

Should the resolution pass, abortion-rights supporters including Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, Gov. Pete Wilson of California and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are among GOP elected officials who might be in danger of losing the party's financial support.

Nicholson wrote that passing such a resolution "would inevitably lead to litmus tests on other controversial issues."

"Quite simply, it's a slippery slope that only serves to divide our great national party. Ronald Reagan, a hero to us all, reminded us often that those who agree with us 80 percent of the time are our allies, not our foes," Nicholson said.

While he did not tell RNC members to vote against the abortion resolution, he did write, "I cannot support its passage."

Should the resolution win a majority of the nine-person RNC Resolution Committee next Friday, it would then be voted on by the full RNC later that day.

Nicholson had been under pressure "from both sides of the issue," one GOP official said. "He felt he had to take a stand."

"At one point there was a feeling that the resolution was in danger of passing," said one Republican source.

"The pressure started mounting this week," said another.

The GOP has opposed all forms of abortion in its platform since 1980. Challenges by abortion rights groups to change the platform language have been unsuccessful.

In Other News

Tuesday Jan. 6, 1998

Clinton Unveils Plan For Expanding Medicare Coverage
Sonny Bono Killed In Skiing Accident
Washington Remembers Sonny Bono
Minor Rift Between First Pets
GOP Leader Acts To Stop Anti-Abortion Plank

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