- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2016

Donald Trump on Friday will vow to fight for a permanent prohibition on spending federal taxpayers’ money on abortions, as he announces his Pro Life Coalition, a group of high-profile backers who will make the case that the Republican presidential nominee is worthy of support for pro-life voters.

He’s tapped Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List, to lead the coalition, and released a letter pledging to fulfill four pro-life goals as president, including nominating pro-life justices, signing a law ending late-term abortions, stripping funding from Planned Parenthood as long as the organization performs abortions, and making permanent the Hyde Amendment ban on taxpayer money going to fund abortions.

The move is all the more striking coming at this point in the campaign, when most candidates are trying to tack to the political center, hoping to avoid thorny social issues.

“For a candidate to make additional commitments during a general election is almost unheard of,” Mrs. Dannenfelser said. “The contrast could not be clearer between the two tickets, and I am proud to serve as National Chairwoman for Donald Trump’s Pro-Life Coalition.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s commitment to a permanent ban on taxpayer funding comes as the Democratic Party is moving further to the left, including a plank in its platform calling for an end to the Hyde Amendment, which for four decades has stood as a hard-fought compromise.

Named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde, the policy does not attempt to outlaw abortions, but does generally prohibit taxpayer funding so those who object to the procedure don’t have their money paying for it.

While the 2016 election has been playing out on economic issues and personal appeal of the two major-party candidates, social-issue groups have been rallying behind the scenes, trying to identify and turn out their base.

Volunteers for Mrs. Dannenfelser’s group, SBA, and a related political action committee, have already knocked on more than 600,000 doors in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina.

Pro-choice forces are also mobilizing, with California Planned Parenthood CEO Kathy Kneer saying this week that stopping Mr. Trump is her organization’s chief goal.

“Overall, from a national perspective, our biggest concern is that if Donald Trump becomes president he would take action to defund Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country,” Ms. Kneer said in an interview published Wednesday in Capitol Weekly.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has run on a promise to end the Hyde Amendment, but her vice presidential pick, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, supports the policy.

For his part Mr. Trump is an odd champion for pro-lifers, having been avowedly pro-choice in the 1990s, including defending partial-birth abortion.

While running for office, though, he has repeatedly said he is pro-life, and has taken steps to prove it, including releasing a list of potential Supreme Court nominees with a host of picks who have joined important rulings upholding pro-life stances.

Advocates also cheered his pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate and the decision last month to install Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager.

Mr. Trump personally affirmed his pro-life stance this week while appearing this week on “The Dr. Oz Show.”

In that interview he said he’s against requiring women to obtain a prescription for birth control pills, saying that’s too big of a barrier for some.

“I think what we have in birth control is when you have to get a prescription, that’s a pretty tough something to climb, and I would say it should not be a prescription — it should not be done by prescription,” Mr. Trump said in the interview, taped Wednesday and aired Thursday.

Over-the-counter birth control has become a popular position among some Republicans who opposed the Obamacare regulations requiring health insurance plans to cover the drugs, but who wanted to make access to them easier. That stance has helped GOP candidates push back against Democrats’ accusations that Republicans are engaged in a “war on women.”

• David Sherfinski contributed to this article.

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