In last night’s debate, Republican vice presidential nominee Richard Cheney masked the Republican Party Platform on abortion and gay and lesbian rights. Cheney would not directly answer a question regarding the recent FDA approval of mifepristone, a safe and effective method of early, non-surgical abortion. Cheney merely said that he felt the president would not have the authority to overturn the FDA’s decision. The Republican Platform supports a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions, along with legislation that would treat a fetus as a person under the law. The Democratic Platform supports the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, and vows to protect choice “regardless of ability to pay.”
On gay rights, Cheney again masked the Republican Party’s stance, giving middle-of-the-road, unclear answers. He did not say whether he and Bush are for or against gay marriage or legalized “civil unions,” but called “official sanction” of same-sex relationships a “tougher problem.” The Republican Party Platform clearly states that it “support[s] the traditional definition of marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman,” while the Democratic Platform favors “equitable alignment of benefits” that would afford same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities under the law as married, heterosexual couples.
With candidates facing clear questions about abortion in the wake of the FDA’s recent approval of mifepristone, abortion has become a defining issue in this election. At the same time, the gender gap has widened to an unprecedented 19 points, with 59 percent of women favoring Gore, compared to 40 percent of men. 32 percent of women and 50 percent of men favor Bush. According to a recent Gallup/USA Today/CNN Poll, Gore’s lead among all voters has also widened significantly, with 51 percent of voters favoring the Democrat and only 40 percent favoring Bush.