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The Nevada Republican Party Brings Back Common Sense

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News this week that the Nevada Republican Party has removed opposition to legal abortion and gay marriage from their platform is a welcome development for the many Republicans across the country who stand for individual choice, personal responsibility and keeping the government out of places it does not belong. Too often in the past few years, I've seen majority Republican support for a woman's ability to make her own medical decisions be drowned out by a small group of extreme politicians who feel it is their place to make decisions for women, taking away their freedom to decide. That's why this move by the Nevada GOP is so encouraging -- and I hope it can be a model for other state parties to follow. This is the right thing to do for women and the right thing to do for the future of our party.

If we want our country to be guided by traditional Republican principles, we need to keep government out of the personal health care decisions of women and their families. And if we want our nation to be fiscally responsible, we must invest in comprehensive sex education, family planning programs, and contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies. Unintended pregnancies are costing U.S. taxpayers $11 billion a year. And for every dollar invested in publicly funded family planning, taxpayers save nearly $5. This is sound fiscal policy. That's the message. This is a Republican value.

Barry Goldwater, who 50 years ago this year, began the conservative revolution for our party as the 1964 presidential nominee, was a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and of the right to safe and legal abortion. His wife Peggy was a co-founder of Planned Parenthood in Arizona. It's not been until recent history when some Republican leaders have claimed they know better what a woman should do with her health care than her and her doctor.

At the same time, the Republican nominee has lost the popular vote in three out of the last four presidential elections. Democrats now run all the 12 largest U.S. cities. Only 25 percent of Americans will identify themselves as Republican.

But even as some extreme politicians in our party have launched a crusade to restrict women's access to birth control, to other basic health care, and to safe and legal abortion, many Republicans across the country continue to support women's access to health care. In Oklahoma, State Representative Dr. Doug Cox has stood up time and time again to oppose dangerous restrictions on safe and legal abortion proposed by his colleagues. Last summer, the Perot Foundation donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas to ensure that they can continue to offer vital health services to Texas women, even in the face of unprecedented restrictions jammed through the legislature.

The future of our party should be guided by the actions of those like Dr. Cox. Nevada state party Chairman Michael McDonald recognized this after the new platform was adopted, when he said, "I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion. This is where the party is going."

This is smart politics as much as it is smart policy. May the example of Chairman McDonald spread to other sensible state parties.