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February 08, 2012

What Do Pro-Life Activists Think of Mitt Romney's Abortion Record?

You could believe Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum:

Santorum Accuses Romney of Forcing Mass. Catholic Hospitals to Offer Emergency Contraception

...As David French detailed in a Corner post a few days ago, Romney vetoed the bill that forced Catholic hospitals to offer emergency contraception, but that veto was overriden by the state’s legislature.

[French] There are parallels between this argument over pro-life tactics and the argument over Mitt Romney’s response to the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. In both cases some activists demanded a grand gesture, but Mitt responded by fighting the fights he could win: enforcing a little-known, almost century-old law prohibiting out-of-state marriages if the marriage wouldn’t be legal in the couple’s home state, supporting a state marriage amendment, and even filing a lawsuit to force the legislature to act on the amendment.

In the conscience arena, he not only vetoed the EC law and took to the pages of the Globe to explain his reasoning, he supported Catholic Charities’ resistance to placing children with same-sex couples, and even filed “An Act Protecting Religious Freedom” to protect the rights of conscience of Catholic Charities and other religious organizations in Massachusetts. In fact, many of these actions are what convinced me to become an “evangelical for Mitt.”

Or you could believe pro-life activists who actually worked with Mitt Romney in support of the pro-life agenda during his 4 year term as governor of Massachusetts:

“Since being elected governor, Mitt Romney has had a consistent commitment to the culture of life. As governor, he worked closely with Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Misguided attempts to blame Mitt Romney for the fact that state-funded health care in Massachusetts funds abortion ignore the facts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 1981 that the Massachusetts Constitution requires the funding of abortion. This decision forces Massachusetts to fund abortion to the same extent it funds other medical procedures. A 1986 attempt to overturn the court ruling with a Constitutional Amendment failed. Obviously, in providing health coverage, the governor and the legislature were bound by this decision.”

Ann Fox
President, Massachusetts Citizens for Life

"Governor Romney showed great political courage and expended much of his political capital supporting pro-life measures when he was here in Massachusetts... It was a very difficult political environment. 85% of the state legislature was Democrat...when many of the state house doors were closed to us, we always were welcomed by Gov. Romney and his staff.

- Mary Ann Glendon,
Founder, Women Affirming Life

...Visitors to www.americansformitt.com who have read my biography have noticed that I’ve spent the last few years directing two programs for a nonprofit pro-life organization. This position has allowed me to meet with national pro-life leaders and interact with pro-life Americans on a daily basis. As a proven pro-lifer and an early supporter of Governor Romney’s expected candidacy, I hope I can offer a unique perspective on the issues surrounding his position on abortion.

... Romney's pledge not to change abortion law was absolutely brilliant. The political realities of Massachusetts make pro-life policy victories virtually impossible in the heavily Democratic legislature. By refusing to change abortion laws, Romney launched a strategic effort to keep the commonwealth from further liberalizing abortion policy, including the age of parental consent proposal."

- Nathan Burd,
Founder/Director, Americans for Mitt

“For the four years of his administration, Governor Romney provided strong leadership on key conservative social issues — whether it was politically expedient to do so or not.” He tells National Review Online, “I believe Mitt Romney has done an excellent job in defending traditional family values in Massachusetts despite an extremely hostile legislature and judiciary, not to mention an attorney general and secretary of state who both opposed everything the governor stood for.”

Mineau adds, “From the onset of the infamous Goodridge court decision in 2003, Governor Romney has opposed same-sex marriage and, I believe, correctly sought to overturn it through a constitutional amendment. In 2004, he invoked the state law that prohibited out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts thus preventing the exportation of these so-called marriages to other states. In 2005, he ardently supported a citizen petition for an amendment to end same-sex marriage that wound up gathering a record number of 170,000 signatures. Throughout 2006 he lobbied the state legislature that was refusing to vote on the amendment. His intense involvement culminated with the filing of a suit in the State Supreme Judicial Court in December to mandate the legislature to hold the vote as required by the state constitution.”

Mineau directly credits Romney with getting the state legislature to vote on a constitutional amendment on gay marriage earlier this month. He explains, “The court unanimously ruled on December 27 that the legislature was constitutionally obligated to vote. This ruling, coupled with the governor threatening to not sign the end-of-year legislative pay raise, resulted in the legislature passing the amendment on January 2nd, the last day of the session. This could never have happened without Governor Romney’s leadership.”

- Kris Mineau
Massachusetts Family Institute

" “Unlike other candidates who only speak to the importance of confronting the major social issues of the day, Governor Romney has a record of action in defending life,” Dr. Willke said. “Every decision he made as governor was on the side of life. I know he will be the strong pro-life president we need in the White House, Governor Romney is the only candidate who can lead our pro-life and pro-family conservative movement to victory in 2008.”...

Dr. Willke, helped found the National Right To Life Committee and served for 10 years as its president. Dr. Willke serves as president of the Life Issues Institute, Inc., and president of the International Right to Life Federation.

- Doctor John Willke

Or you could simply read this:

January 29, 2012

Dear Fellow Conservatives:

At the end of last month, nine Massachusetts leaders representing a broad coalition of conservative activists penned an open letter in support of Mitt Romney and outlined his commitment to the values that we hold dear. We felt that the letter that they wrote was very effective in helping many voters understand that Mitt Romney was a pro-life and a pro-family governor and that his record serves as public validation of his commitment to those same policies as President of the United States.

In light of the fact that in the past few days Newt Gingrich has used inflammatory language to mischaracterize Governor Romney’s record on the issues of life and family, we decided to re-release that same letter from those Massachusetts leaders under our own signature.

It's almost certainly possible to find pro-life activists who think Mitt Romney didn't do enough while governor of a state with a majority pro-choice, 85% Democrat legislature. Maybe some of these folks were even on the scene at the time?

What it is NOT possible to argue is that Romney's alledged perfidy and inconstancy on abortion rights is a slam dunk.

Real life, unlike campaign rhetoric, involves tradeoffs. I used to think re-writing history was the hallmark of the DNC. Our Progressive Brethren in Christ appear to have stiff competition these days.

Posted by Cassandra at February 8, 2012 05:22 PM

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...The best that indicates is that he is not actively hostile to pro-lifers. A more uncharitable interpretation would be that he was too weak and afraid to stand up for what he believed in, if in fact he believed in it.

Posted by: alwaysfiredup at February 8, 2012 08:26 PM

(And you should change your header; it keeps telling me there are no new posts and that is a damned lie. :) )

Posted by: alwaysfiredup at February 8, 2012 08:27 PM

But is it a statistic?

Posted by: Grim at February 8, 2012 08:49 PM

Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.

Posted by: Abortion Clinics in Moorpark at February 9, 2012 05:34 AM


I will ask you to read the entire post.

What does "fight for what he really believes in" mean, specifically?

I'm not sure how you (or anyone) can ignore vetoing legislation he didn't agree with, lobbying the legislature, taking the legislature to court, as "not fighting".

In the case of abortion, his campaign pledge was clear: "I will not seek to reverse existing laws but will not support expansion of abortion rights". And that's exactly what he did.

He vetoed the EC bill and his veto was overridden. He then took the position that it was not enforceable against Catholic hospitals until his legal counsel (and the state Attorney General) told him that it superseded the previous law.

At this point he could have done two things:

1. Refuse to enforce the law (in which case the legislature had ALREADY stated they would simply pass a new law explicitly repealing the old one). And they had the votes. It wasn't even close.

2. Take the case to the MA Supreme Court (the same court that discovered a right to gay marriage in the MA Constitution)... without the support and against the advice of his AttyGen. Courts generally try in these cases to defer to the legislature. Since the legislature had considered and rejected a religious exemption to the bill, their intent would have been plain.

Such suits cost lots of taxpayer money. You may argue that doesn't matter, but I imagine it matters to said taxpayers. Taking a case to court that you're not going to win is a waste of taxpayer money.

There are two outcomes here:

1. Send it back to the legislature (see the first option).
2. Rule that the new law superseded the old law.

Perhaps you can explain to me under what rationale an elected public servant (not King or dictator) elevates his personal belief over the expressed will of the legislature and the wishes of a clear majority of his constituents?

Is this how you want Obama to act? Because the test of whether a principle is right or not is not that the end justifies the means, but that you agree with it, even when it doesn't produce the outcome you wanted.

One more thing: aren't conservatives against trying to accomplish through the courts what they can't through the legislature? Seems to me that used to be called judicial activism, and we opposed it.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 9, 2012 07:29 AM

I don't know why Mitt's supporters aren't bringing this stuff out.

Conservatives are suspicious of him, and knowing this would do a lot for bridging the gap.

As for me I decided to vote for Romney some time ago - mainly a process of elimination - not for any great identifying with him - but hearing stuff like this makes me feel better.

Posted by: Bill Brandt at February 9, 2012 08:46 AM

Well Bill, I have brought these things up in a number of conversations.

But you can't force people to read things they don't want to read, nor to confront facts that undermine positions they've already decided upon.

I will continue to bring these things up because I think they're important. But to be perfectly honest, I don't think it will make much difference since the only people who pay attention are the ones already leaning in that direction.

It's depressing. And it has a lot to do with why I decided 14 months ago that I was wasting my time writing online.

I don't know what to do about that. What changed my mind and my heart this time was a feeling that I wasn't seeing anyone defending the positions I hold dear. But in real life, one has to balance effort with reward.

So I decided to try again. I am not willing to do all I can, but I am willing to do something. No doubt that makes me a moral coward by today's standards :p

It is what it is.

Posted by: Princess Leia in a Cheese Danish Bikini at February 9, 2012 10:36 AM

[Signed by] Princess Leia in a Cheese Danish Bikini

Now there's an image worthy of your next CAPTION THIS contest.

I double-dog dare you.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at February 9, 2012 12:48 PM

I was under the impression that the issue was not so much what Romney has done, but his imputed motives for having done it.

It seems there are 3 explanations.

1) Romney really did have an epiphany and a change of heart. That it occurred shortly prior to his announcement that he wouldn't be running for re-election ostensibly to focus on running for POTUS was completely coincidental.

2) He was and still is a pro-choice supporter. However, a pro-choice Republican is unelectable for POTUS and so has an epiphany that he needs to feign a pro-life platform. Given MA's legislative demographics he can make a strong showing of fighting for Pro-Life causes because he knows nothing will ever come of it. Thus he has nothing to lose.

3) He is and always has been pro-life. However, a pro-life politician is unelectable in MA and so feigns a pro-choice stance. He doesn't really have anything to lose here either because, once again, the demographics of the legislature ensures that he would lose those battles anyway. Once he no longer needed to be elected in MA (because of his plans to run for POTUS) he drops the pro-choice stance like a hot potato.

Which one someone chooses as an explanation of the facts probably has more to do with their pre-existing opinion of his character.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 9, 2012 05:40 PM

I was under the impression that the issue was not so much what Romney has done, but his imputed motives for having done it.

I think it depends on who you're talking to, Yu-Ain. I've found that few folks who don't like Romney actually know:

1. His actual position during the campaign (He wouldn't seek to reverse existing abortion rights but would fight any expansion of them). He said at the time that this made him "effectively pro-choice", which happens to be my position exactly. So while one can argue this is moral cowardice, I would have to disagree.

I would call it refreshingly honest. He told voters exactly what he would and would not do up front. And then he did what he said he would.

2. The bills he vetoed, or that his vetoes were overridden overwhelmingly. Unsurprisingly, when informed of this, the response is often, "Well he should have fought harder".

So far I haven't seen anyone lay out what he was supposed to have done and so far when I've laid out the options for them, the response has been... silence.

3. I don't think he's feigning a pro-choice stance. The Mormon church opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest. That seems to be Romney's position. Now some may fault Romney for not demanding that all Americans embrace his private beliefs.

Personally, I wouldn't go there. As I've pointed out, I haven't seen any of my pro-life friends (who are many) marching in front of abortion clinics or working full time to repeal Roe. So the notion that anyone who isn't willing to devote their life to reversing Roe isn't "really" pro-life seems to me to be highly suspect on the merits.

Like Romney, I have not waded into the intricacies of various birth control methods. So it doesn't surprise me that he might not have thought those issues through, or might have had a change of heart once he confronted the details.

Having a family member who is crippled by Parkinson's, my heart goes out to those who are tempted by embryonic stem cell research. I've read his initial and 'evolved' positions and found them quite sensible and understandable. But then he thinks like I do so that's hardly surprising.

Grim thinks I"m not a bad person for thinking that way, but Romney is.

I must confess I don't get that.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 9, 2012 05:59 PM

It's not that your thought process that bothers me, Cass. I realize you identify with Romney to some degree, but I don't see it. I've never seen you do anything like this:

1994, seeking votes from liberals:

"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 that we should sustain & support it." ... "I think it’s important that people see me not as a pro-life candidate."

2012, seeking votes from conservatives:

"Today marks the 39th anniversary of one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history, when the court in Roe v. Wade claimed authority over the fundamental question regarding the rights of the unborn. The result is millions of lives since that day have been tragically silenced."

That's not the language of a slowly evolving position, or the language of compromise. I could believe Y-A-G's scenario (1), except that exactly the same conversion happened on the issue of gun control.

Two such intense conversions on completely different issues, neatly aligned with political advantage, does not look like a wholehearted and thoughtful process of a conflicted soul. I respect that kind of thoughtfulness. I just hate being played for a sucker.

Now, that said, your story of the rescue of the girl in the post above is prompting me to revisit some of my thinking. That was a decent thing to do, and it deserves careful consideration.

Posted by: Grim at February 9, 2012 06:30 PM

Princess Leia:

First my mental imagery of your outfit almost puts the mind into overload.

Second - your remarks tie in with a phenomenon I have discovered while making comments on various blogs - and imdb and amazon.

Most people tend to "grade" you not so much on what you have to say, but whether they "like" what you had to say or not.

I used to write long movie reviews on amazon and imdb only to discover with the most detailed descriptions "1 out of 20 found this helpful" or some such nonsense.

Making me wonder if the other 19 are complete morons.

Not that they have to agree with me but in giving them information they (a) either knew all this already of (b) didn't like my analysis.

And that, I decided, is human nature.

It is a rare person who can alter their opinions on receipt of polite and reasoned facts.

As for me to tell you the truth I had been wavering between Santorum and Romney. I try to think strategically - who is the better positioned to beat Obama while still holding most beliefs aligned with mine?

It is a matrix of course and nobody can find a politician whose beliefs mirror 100% of their own.

But reading this put me firmly into the Romney column.

I learned as a salesman many years ago - I used to do cold calling - the toughest kind of sales - but you never knew which people would buy - some of the people who kept agreeing with you you could never close, and others - after hearing just a bit of my presentation, would buy.

You never know.

So my advice, for whatever it is worth - in the short time I have been coming here - is to simply voice your opinions in the elegant and logical way I have seen in such a short time - cast them to the wind and know that some will accept them.

Posted by: Bill Brandt at February 9, 2012 06:39 PM

Well Grim, if you insist upon leaving out what he ran on in 2002 ("I support existing abortion rights in MA but will fight expansion of them"... which he did) and also leave out part of his position now (Roe should be reversed and the matter left to the states, which is utterly consistent with his 2002 campaign position) then I can see your confusion.

The really *nifty* part of these omissions is that leaving things out preserves the narrative of a calculated move to run for President in 2005... which, if you confront his position during the race for governor, seems, oh, I don't know. Inconvenient???

It also helps if you strategically leave out the position of the Mormon church (that abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother, is morally wrong).

And that's just the point: you keep strategically leaving things out.

Morally wrong and illegal don't always coincide.

I feel intensely that abortion takes a human life. Always have. That's why I have a 32 year old son today. And yet, like Romney, I am effectively pro-choice when it comes to the right of STATES to pass laws regulating or allowing abortion.

But since I'm not running for office, that's not inconsistent.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 9, 2012 06:47 PM

Thank you, Bill.

And Grim, please forgive my asperity. I am tired and depressed and frustrated. I can't seem to convey that on this subject there is a deep divide between my personal opinion and what I'm willing to see government impose on others by force.

I can live with the States doing it. But not with the federal government doing it. And I can understand that abortion is not the only issue on this earth and how people can - and obviously do, since they're not out there blocking pregnant women from entering abortion clinics - take the reality that is Roe into account on a daily basis.

What I can't understand, quite frankly, is asking someone else to do what you're not willing to do yourself, which is oppose abortion with everything you've got, no matter the cost.

My own opposition to legalized abortion has strengthened over the years. So I don't find it at all weird or suspicious that Romney's would too.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 9, 2012 06:58 PM

That doesn't appear to be an exact quote, Cass, so I'm not sure what it is you want me to not ignore. However, here is Romney talking at length in 2002 about his support for "our pro-choice laws" (emphasis in the original) and to his position being "not a paper's width difference" from his opponent.

I don't know the position of the Mormon church on anything, but the Romney campaign certainly hasn't helped me understand it. I gather the assumption is that Southerners can be relied upon to be prejudiced against Mormons, so that it'd be better not to mention it; but in fact, the only Mormon I ever knew well I really liked -- a fine cheerful lad named Jimmy Fish, who was in Georgia as a missionary to evangelize the heathen Baptists -- and perhaps, if church doctrine is really what roots his position, he ought to say so.

Posted by: Grim at February 9, 2012 07:18 PM

And Cass, there is nothing to forgive; but if there were, you could rely on my forgiveness with perfect confidence. You and I are not very far apart on the issue of abortion -- I think we've had that discussion. I also prefer an absence of law as a rule, and am unwilling to trust the government to rule over intimate areas of our lives.

I generally think laws are better off unwritten, and if they must be written they are better off unenforced. That's not the issue for me at all, I assure you.

Posted by: Grim at February 9, 2012 07:21 PM