The New York state Republican Party has broken with the national GOP by adopting an abortion-rights platform at its convention. Its gubernatorial candidate, businessman Pierre A. Rinfret, nominated yesterday, also favors a woman's right to choose abortion.
State Assemblyman George Pataki, chairman of the state party platform committee, said the stance should be considered "all-encompassing" but acknowledged that the plank "is a break with the national platform, which is strong right-to-life."
The state GOP platform committee's abortion plank reads in part: "State government must not become a 'big brother,' regulating people in their personal affairs and lives. The New York state Republican Party reaffirms its historic commitment to the right of privacy and reproductive rights."
Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) said the convention should have remained neutral. "Now we have a position that's pro-choice. Why?" he asked. But state GOP Chairman J. Patrick Barrett tried to reflect the "big tent" view of Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater. "I'm pro-life. A lot of my friends in the Republican Party are pro-choice," Barrett said. "We have room for everyone."
National abortion-rights activists called the vote a signal to GOP leaders of the importance voters place on the issue.
"It's nothing of the sort," said John C. Willke, president of the National Right to Life Committee. He said the vote will hurt Rinfret. "The New York Republican Party has always been liberal," Willke said. "It never approved of the national Republican platform."