Romney’s Evolving And Revolving Pro-Life Views

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by Jen Green

I promised you more . . . here it is.

Until his mid-50s, Romney was consistent on abortion – he was all for it.

As a senate candidate in 1994, Mitt Romney forcefully declared himself pro-choice, stating, “You will not see me wavering on that.” When Kennedy called him “multiple choice” in a debate, Romney demanded an extra rebuttal. He revealed that a close relative died of an illegal abortion years ago and said, “Since that time, my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that.” (The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)

According to his spokesman, Romney’s adherence to the pro-choice position had become “firmer” as “Mitt has studied the issues with regard to choice more and more and talked with a lot of people about them.” (The Boston Globe, 9/10/94)

Romney claimed he supported legalizing abortion years before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. He said, “I joined my mother in 1970 when she said she was in favor of legalizing abortion.” (The Boston Globe, 10/12/94)

Romney during another 1994 senate debate said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. … I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.” (The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)

In 1994, Romney declared his support for access to RU-486, stating “I think it would be a positive thing to have women have the choice of taking the morning-after pill. … I would favor having it available.” (Boston Herald, 5/19/94)

The Romney campaign even accused Sen. Ted Kennedy of flip-flopping on abortion.  After affirming that “Mitt has always been consistent in his pro-choice position,” Romney campaign consultant Charles Manning cited a 1971 letter written by Kennedy,  “I think the reason they don’t trust Ted Kennedy is that he flipflopped on abortion. He was pro-life before Roe v. Wade and now he’s changed. Mitt has always been consistent in his pro-choice position and that’s why the group respects him.” (The Boston Globe, 9/8/94)

Eight years later, as a candidate for Massachusetts governor, Romney again reaffirmed his long-held pro-choice position, “[A]s governor of the Commonwealth, I will protect the right of a woman to choose under the law of the country and the laws of the Commonwealth.” (The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)

Romney in a 2002 gubernatorial debate said, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.” (2002 Gubernatorial Debate, 10/29/02)

Mitt Romney also said in 2002, “I do not take the position of a pro-life candidate. I’m in favor of preserving and protecting a woman’s right to choose. … It’s an issue that’s important. I’ve established my view very clearly.” (2002 Gubernatorial Debate, 10/29/02)

And again in 2002, when Romney completed a questionnaire on abortion he proudly distributed it to the press before returning it to NARAL. “Yesterday, Romney also aimed to head off confusion about his stance on abortion rights by answering a Mass National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League questionnaire with mostly abortion-rights positions. He offered the questionnaire to the press even before he returned it to MassNARAL.” (The Boston Globe, 4/10/02)

And in his 2002 NARAL questionnaire he wrote,  “I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose. This choice is a deeply personal one … Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s.” (The Boston Globe, 7/3/05)

On another questionnaire, this time one Planned Parenthood gave to the gubernatorial candidates in 2002, Romney answered ‘Yes’ to the question, ‘Do you support the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade?” (The Boston Globe, 3/25/05)

Romney also said that, as governor, he would keep taxpayer-funded abortions in place in the Bay State. He stated, “This state does provide Medicaid funding for abortions, and that’s something which I would keep in place.” (The Boston Globe, 3/24/02)

Romney opposed mandatory counseling and waiting periods for abortion. “According to [Romney’s] written response to an abortion-rights group questionnaire, Romney supports a ban on partial-birth abortions but otherwise opposes any curtailment of existing abortion rights, including the anti-abortion movement’s attempts to impose mandatory counseling and waiting periods.” (Boston Magazine, 6/02)

Romney even refused to meet with pro-life delegates to the Republican State Convention in 2002. “U.S. Senate hopeful W. Mitt Romney further distanced himself from anti-abortion forces at the start of the GOP state convention in Springfield, saying he does not want to be labeled a ‘pro-life’ candidate. Anti-abortion delegates are expected to caucus before today’s convention vote, but Romney said he will not meet with them. ‘I’m not seeking their endorsement,’ said Romney, who remains the clear favorite to win the party’s endorsement today. ‘I think it’s important that people see me not as a pro-life candidate.’” (Boston Herald, 5/14/94)

Then, as he prepared to run for the Presidency, Romney had an “epiphany” and reversed course on the life issue.

Romney says he “simply changed his mind” on abortion one day in November 2004. “On abortion, Romney says he simply changed his mind. He recalls that it happened in a single revelatory moment, during a Nov. 9, 2004, meeting with an embryonic-stem-cell researcher who said he didn’t believe therapeutic cloning presented a moral issue because the embryos were destroyed at 14 days. ‘It hit me very hard that we had so cheapened the value of human life in a Roe v. Wade environment that it was important to stand for the dignity of human life,’ Romney says.” (Time, 5/21/07)

The Globe pointed out, “As recently as 2002, Romney had called his support for abortion rights ‘unequivocal.’ But in May 2005, he told USA Today that he was ‘in a different place.’” (The Boston Globe, 6/30/07) and “Two months later, he began saying that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights, had cheapened life.” (The Boston Globe, 6/30/07)

Yet, despite his pro-life epiphany, Romney continued to govern by his pro-choice roots.

According to ABC News, “[S]everal actions Romney took mere months after that meeting call into question how deep-seated his conversion truly was.” (ABC News, 6/14/07)

In May 2005, Romney claimed in a press conference he was “absolutely committed” to maintaining pro-choice laws in Massachusetts. He said, “I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice and so far I’ve been able to successfully do that and my personal philosophical views about this issue is not something that I think would do anything other than distract from what I think is a more critical agenda.” (Press Conference, 5/27/05)

Also, months after his epiphany, pro-life groups considered Romney an abortion-rights supporter – and a top advisor did little to dispute the claim. “Marie Sturgis, legislative director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said she hasn’t detected any change in Romney stance. The group considers Romney to be an abortion-rights supporter, as do national antiabortion groups such as the Family Research Council. … [Romney aide Eric] Fehrnstrom said the governor’s position has not changed on either sex education or abortion.” (The Boston Globe, 3/25/05)

“Within two months of his epiphany on this issue, Romney appointed to a judgeship a Democrat who was an avowed supporter of abortion rights.” (ABC News, 6/14/07). Romney appointed Matthew Nestor to the district court in January 2005 – a pro-choice Democrat who “stressed” his position during state house campaign. “Nestor was born in Lynn, grew up in Randolph and graduated from Wesleyan University and Boston College Law School. In the campaign, he has stressed his support for the death penalty and welfare reform as well as a pro-choice stance on abortion, issues on which he and Jones agree. ” (The Boston Globe, 10/16/94)

Romney’s health care reform plan included Commonwealth Care, an insurance product for the uninsured to buy private health care coverage. “Governor Mitt Romney today officially launched Commonwealth Care, an innovative health insurance product that will allow thousands of uninsured Massachusetts residents to purchase private health insurance products at affordable rates. Commonwealth Care is a key component of the state’s landmark healthcare reform law approved by the Governor in April. ‘We are now on the road to getting everyone health insurance in Massachusetts,’ said Governor Romney. … ‘Today, we celebrate a great beginning.’” (States News Service, 10/2/06)

Commonwealth Care, which is “funded by the state,” provides access to abortion services. “Commonwealth Care is run by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority and funded by the state. … Commonwealth Care health plans include: outpatient medical care (doctor’s visits, surgery, radiology and lab, abortion, community health center visits.) (MassResources, 2/5/07)

RomneyCare requires one member of MassHealth Payment Policy Board must be appointed by Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts. “SECTION 3. Chapter 6A of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 16I the following 6 sections: . . . Section 16M. (a) There shall be a MassHealth payment policy advisory board. The board shall consist of the secretary of health and human services or his designee, who shall serve as chair, the commissioner of health care financing and policy, and 12 other members: … 1 member appointed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.” (Massachusetts General Court, www.mass.gov, 2/5/07)

In June 2007, Romney denied his bill included the Planned Parenthood mandate. He was asked, “I noticed some of the conservative groups back in Massachusetts, they complain about there’s a Planned Parenthood rep mandate to be on the planning board for the health care plan. Is that something you just had to deal with in negotiating with the legislature?” He answered, “It’s certainly not something that was in my bill.” (Arlington Heights, IL] Daily Herald, 6/17/07)

The new law called for Massachusetts to seek a federal waiver to grow the Number of low-income people eligible for family-planning services. “The new law calls for the state to seek a federal waiver to expand the number of low- income people eligible for comprehensive family-planning services statewide. If the federal government approves the waiver, an estimated 88,000 more people would be eligible, said Richard Powers, spokesman for the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.” (The Boston Globe, 10/15/05)

“The services include the distribution of condoms, abortion counseling, and the distribution of emergency contraception, or morning after pills, by prescription.” (The Boston Globe, 10/15/05)

In December 2005, Romney “abruptly ordered his administration to reverse course … and require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.” “Gov. Mitt Romney abruptly ordered his administration to reverse course yesterday and require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception medication to rape victims. In a turnaround that foes derided as politically motivated, Romney directed his Department of Public Health to scrap rules that exempted the Catholic institutions from a new law governing the medicine.” (Boston Herald, 12/9/05)

The state mandate that all hospitals offer the morning after pill specifically impacted Catholic facilities because the pill violates their religious tenets. “A dozen Bay State hospitals that treat rape victims do not provide the morning-after pill, according to a 2004 survey by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. The interpretation that all hospitals must offer the pill could have the greatest impact on Catholic hospitals that do not provide emergency contraception because it violates their religious tenets.” (The Boston Globe, 12/9/05)

Romney explained, “My personal view in my heart of hearts is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraceptives or emergency contraceptive information.” (Boston Herald, 12/9/05)

Romney had supported a state ruling allowing hospitals to opt out on moral grounds. “The decision overturns a ruling made public this week by the state Department of Public Health that privately run hospitals could opt out of the requirement if they objected on moral or religious grounds. Romney had initially supported that interpretation.” (The Boston Globe, 12/9/05)

Reportedly, Romney abandoned his plans to exempt religious hospitals under pressure from women and Democrats. “Facing opposition from women, the Democratic Party and even his own running mate, Gov. Mitt Romney abandoned plans Thursday to exempt religious and other private hospitals from a new law requiring them to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims.” (The Associated Press, 12/8/05) “Women, abortion rights groups and the Democratic party also applied pressure, organizing phone calls to the Governor’s office.” (The Associated Press, 12/8/05)

The Boston Herald called Romney’s decision “an Olympic-caliber double flip-flop.” “Flip, flop, flip. Yes, Gov. Mitt Romney has now executed an Olympic-caliber double flip-flop with a gold medal-performance twist-and-a-half on the issue of emergency contraception. … It’s no secret Mitt Romney would like to be president. But who would have thought he’d take John Kerry as his campaign role model?” (Boston Herald, 12/9/05)

Many questioned the change, believing political expediency and not morality propelled the Romney flip-flop.

National Review’s Rich Lowry remarked that Romney’s  conversion story “isn’t very compelling.” “[Romney’s] account of how he came to change his view on abortion – through the issue of stem-cell research – isn’t very compelling and he would probably be better off not talking about it at all. Fairly or not, people aren’t going to believe it.” (National Review’s “The Corner,” 1/29/07)

ABC News noted when Romney ran for office in 1994 and 2002 he promised “to protect abortion rights.” “Romney’s shifting positions on abortion have become a major flashpoint in the Republican presidential campaign. He ran for Senate in 1994 and governor in 2002 promising to protect abortion rights, but disavowed that view as he began preparations for a presidential run.” (ABC News, 6/14/07)

Republican strategist Keith Appell said Romney’s pro-choice actions after his abortion “epiphany” begs question: “How many epiphanies have you had?” “If he was still taking actions that appear to reflect his old, ‘pro-choice’ views after November 2004, it raises an important question for Republicans, Appell said. ‘It’s part of Romney’s challenge: How many epiphanies have you had?’ he said.” (ABC News, 6/14/07)

Pro-Life Action League national director Joseph M. Scheidler said about Romney, “The guy’s not coming around. … If he’s trying to win pro-life folks, he won’t get the hardcore.” (The Boston Globe, 10/15/05)

And perhaps the saddest commentary of this entire saga is this final quotation . . . and who made it:

Romney advisor James Bopp (at that time chief legal counsel of National Right to Life) in 2007: “I’m really not sure where [abortion] will ultimately fit in his Agenda. He’s still on a journey.” (Politico, 2/21/07)