Struggle Over Semantics

"Democrats for Life" decided on Friday not to seek an amendment to the Democratic Party platform which would have cast the party as a "Big Tent" welcoming pro-life as well as pro-choice voters. This "conscience clause" was in the Democratic platform in 1996 and 2000 but was stripped in 2004.

"We decided not to offer an amendment because we are working with the party to try to solve this issue," Kristen Day, the pro-life group's executive director, tells ABC News.

Having let the 5:00 pm ET Friday deadline pass, Day is hoping that the platform committee's leadership will adopt similar language without the pressure of an amendment.

The DNC's platform committee is set to consider a 51-page statement of party principles -- including three paragraphs on abortion -- when it meets Saturday in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The abortion section was carefully crafted.

These three paragraphs, which appear under a "Choice" header, begin with a statement of support for Roe v. Wade and a pledge to oppose "any and all efforts" to "weaken or undermine" a "woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay."

The "Choice" section goes on to affirm the party's commitment to a handful of measures that hold the potential for reducing the incidence of abortion.

These include family planning services, sex education, adoption programs, as well as income support and pre- and post-natal health care.

The platform affirms its support for women who choose to have abortions as well as women who make the decision to have a child.

"We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions," reads the draft platform's language.

Slate's Will Saletan, the author of "Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War," told ABC News that the Democrats struggled to craft abortion reduction language because a "gulf" exists between "pro-choice and pro-life people over the semantics of how that is said."

"Here's the problem," said Saletan. "Obama and the Democrats are trying to craft a message that will be visible to the pro-life people in terms of saying that abortion will be reduced but that will be invisible to the pro-choice people."

The Rev. Jim Wallis, author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," told ABC News in June that "abortion reduction should be a central Democratic Party plank in this election."

After working with the platform committee on its abortion language, Wallis is satisfied that the current platform draft "leaves room for people with different moral preferences" even though "it doesn't express a preference for one choice over another."

"People in the country aren't parsing secondary and primary clauses," said Wallis. "People are trying to see if there is a space for them and room for them in this process."

The kicker:

"I ask that the public, who expressed concern about the harm John's conduct has done to us, think also about the real harm that the present voyeurism does and give me and my family the privacy we need at this time."

--Elizabeth Edwards writing on the "Daily Kos" blog on Friday evening

On the campaign front. . .


-- 4:15 pm ET Saturday: Addresses the Disabled American Convention, Las Vegas. (2004 Vote totals, Clark county NV: Bush 47%, Kerry 53%)


-- On Vacation in Hawaii no public events scheduled

At the White House. . .


-- Attends Olympics in Beijing, China and returns to Washington on Monday


ABC News' Rhonda Schwartz and Brian Ross: Edwards Admits Sexual Affair; Lied as Presidential Candidate LINK

Press Release: John Edwards Releases Statement LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: The "Electable" Candidate Admits Affair LINK

ABC News' Jennifer Parker: Who Can Fix the American Economy? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: The Trouble with Lobbyists Running Your Campaign LINK

ABC News' Kathleen Hennessey and Devlin Barrett: Clintons Want Obama to Win Truly LINK

ABC News' Jan Simmonds: McCain and VP Candidate Ridge to Tour PA LINK

ABC News' Matthew Dowd: Michigan Memories & Musings LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: The Wit and Wisdom of Toby Keith LINK

ABC News' Jennifer Parker: McCain, Obama Compete in Olympic Ad Wars LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Stumbles LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: New Pentagon Report Uses Language Kerry Used in 2004 that Bush-Cheney Called "Dangerous" and "Naive" LINK


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