We are all well aware that Romney used to be “pro-choice.” Both as a Senate candidate in 1994 and as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney professed he would not alter the status quo on a “woman’s right to choose.” It’s also true that Romney signed into law state-level healthcare reform that arguably mirrors federally enacted Obamacare. Romneycare, like Obamacare, contained abortion funding in its final passage. However, Romney later underwent a profound change of heart on the right to life. As a testament to the nature of the pro-life movement, which is bursting at the seams with tales of conversion, Romney has demonstrated he is the strongest candidate to face President Obama in 2012 and to advance the goals of the pro-life movement.
Romney’s conversion to the pro-life position began in November 2004 after meeting with a scientist from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The scientist insisted to Governor Romney that embryonic stem cell research was not a moral issue because the human embryos were discarded within 14 days after conception. The statement perturbed Romney and following the meeting he remarked to his chief of staff that this experimentation had cheapened the value of human life.
In an op-ed published in the Boston Globe on July 26, 2005, Governor Romney described his pro-life convictions as having “evolved and deepened during my time as governor. In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw where the harsh logic of abortion can lead- to the view of innocent new life as nothing more than research material or a commodity to be exploited.”
Massachusetts, despite the miraculous upset of Scott Brown in January 2010, remains one of the nation’s bluest states. Romney’s consistent support for parental involvement and opposition to partial-birth abortion were enough to earn him the endorsement of Massachusetts Citizens for Life PAC as early as 2002. The fact that Romney supported those consensus pro-life measures and vowed not to alter the status quo on abortion, were a breath of fresh air in a state where even liberal Ted Kennedy was considered a moderate.
Even prior to his conversion, Romney’s commitment to maintain the current law on abortion was groundbreaking for the pro-life movement in Massachusetts. Romney’s campaign pledge to hold the status quo allowed him to resist numerous pro-abortion advances thrown at him by the Democratic-controlled state legislature.
To the dismay of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and Planned Parenthood, Romney vetoed a bill expanding access to Plan B (the morning-after pill) over pro-life concerns and its lack of a parental involvement provision. In the July 26, 2005 Boston Globe op-ed, Romney responded to the criticism over his veto.
“Yesterday I vetoed a bill that the Legislature forwarded to my desk. Though described by its sponsors as a measure relating to contraception, there is more to it than that. The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception: The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception.
Signing such a measure into law would violate the promise I made to the citizens of Massachusetts when I ran for governor. I pledged that I would not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it. What’s more, this particular bill does not require parental consent even for young teenagers. It disregards not only the seriousness of abortion but the importance of parental involvement and so would weaken a protection I am committed to uphold.”
In his conclusion to the article, Romney writes, “You can’t be a pro-life governor in a pro-choice state without understanding that there are heartfelt and thoughtful arguments on both sides of the question. Many women considering abortions face terrible pressures, hurts, and fears; we should come to their aid with all the resourcefulness and empathy we can offer. At the same time, the starting point should be the innocence and vulnerability of the child waiting to be born.”
(Romney’s veto was ultimately overturned by a unanimous vote by the Democratic-controlled Senate. http://www.lifenews.com/2005/09/16/state-1206/ Following the override, the Romney Administration was forced to change course.)
In addition to his bold move to veto the emergency contraception bill, Romney stood strong against state efforts to push embryonic stem cell research. http://www.lifenews.com/2005/05/27/bio-997/
Marie Sturgis, then executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, praised Romney’s pro-life leadership on the issue. She remarked to LifeSiteNews.com that Romney was instrumental in offering amendments to the bill, which would have established the definition of life as beginning at conception. Sturgis exclaimed, “I certainly could not have written the amendments better than that myself.”
The issue of healthcare has dogged Romney on the campaign trail among some conservatives. However, it must be noted pro-abortion Democrats are to blame for the primary pro-life objection, a $50 co-pay for abortions. Just as he was overridden on embryonic stem cell research and the emergency contraception bill, Romney would have been powerless to stop the harmful elements of the law. Court rulings in Massachusetts, which predated the Romney Administration, already mandated state funds for healthcare must cover abortion. Faulting Romney for the disastrously pro-abortion composition of his state’s legislature and court system is not fair.
Since leaving the pro-abortion stronghold of Massachusetts, Romney’s position on abortion further matured. The tangible shift mirrors the evolution of Ronald Reagan, who served as a pro-abortion governor in California. Reagan, unlike Romney who held the status quo on abortion, actually deliberately advanced a pro-abortion agenda.
While Governor California, Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967. Six years before the Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion-on-demand, Reagan supported a bill that pushed the abortion envelope and laid the groundwork for the tearing down of pro-life laws nationwide.
A hallmark of the movement, some of the greatest pro-life advocates come directly from the pro-abortion camp. From Ronald Reagan to the late Bernard Nathanson, from Jane Roe herself to Abby Johnson, the pro-life movement has welcomed people from all walks of life dedicated to protecting unborn children. Mitt Romney should be no exception.
Some question the authenticity of Romney’s pro-life conversion. Many doubt changes of heart can happen in the political world. However, there are endless genuine examples.
George H.W. Bush, who advanced a pro-life agenda while president, was formerly pro-abortion. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who is unquestionably pro-life actually worked on pro-abortion Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign. Governor Rick Perry is a former Democrat and the former chair of Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign. Congressman Mike Pence, the force behind the Pence Amendment to de-fund Planned Parenthood, has admitted to voting for Carter in 1976.
Conversely, Hillary Clinton served as president of her College Republicans group yet went on to become one of the most revered figures of the Left. Legitimate changes of opinion are clearly possible!
Advancing the Goals of the Pro-Life Movement
The pro-life movement has both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goal is defeating President Obama in 2012. The long-term goal is unmistakably to overturn Roe vs. Wade and restore legal protection for human life from the moment of conception until natural death in all 50 states. Mitt Romney aids the pro-life movement in achieving both goals.
Poll after poll shows Romney as the most formidable GOP candidate against Obama, particularly in key swing states. No other candidate has proven he or she can give the President a run for his money. Most of the candidates don’t just fall short of beating Obama but trail by an embarrassingly wide margin.
The Obama Administration and pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL are shaking in their boots at the prospect of facing Romney in 2012. No other presidential candidate has endured more direct attacks by these radical abortion advocates. Romney’s electoral strength threatens the reelection of indisputably the most pro-abortion president in United States history.
The paramount duty of a pro-life president is to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. If Romney were to be elected President of the United States, the pro-life movement would not have to worry about the quality of his appointments.
Romney’s team of judicial advisers includes Judge Robert Bork, the pro-life nominee Reagan hoped to seat on the Supreme Court, and Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, the pro-life heroine of the Notre Dame scandal and former Ambassador to the Vatican. No other candidate in the race for the GOP nomination can boast such renowned authorities on pro-life issues on their advisory teams.
While many of the other candidates were blindly signing pledges of various organizations, Romney released his own pro-life pledge. (http://mittromney.com/blogs/mitts-view/2011/06/my-pro-life-pledge)
As president, Romney has committed himself to appointing pro-life judges, reinstating the Mexico City Policy, signing a federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, banning taxpayer funding of abortion and de-funding organizations like Planned Parenthood which perform and promote abortion. In addition, Romney has never wavered in his support for repeal of the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law. Beyond these promises, what more could a pro-life advocate ask for?
Abortion advocates are certainly not questioning the authenticity of Romney’s change of heart on the issue. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards penned an op-ed for TIME Magazine blasting Romney for vowing to cut federal funding for her abortion business. http://ideas.time.com/2011/11/23/mitt-romneys-about-face-on-womens-health/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=cecilerichards
NARAL Pro-Choice America labels Romney “anti-choice” and criticizes Romney’s support for a pro-life constitutional amendment and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/2012/gop-presidential-candidates/mitt-romney.html NARAL President Nancy Keenan even questions whether Romney ever really was “pro-choice.” http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/29/142827112/mitt-romneys-evolution-on-abortion
Romney has also been heavily criticized by EMILY’s List, the political action committee who only gives its endorsement to candidates who espouse the most extreme aspects of the pro-abortion agenda like taxpayer funding of abortion and partial-birth abortion. The group lambasted Romney for mentioning Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia as models for judicial appointments. According to EMILY’s List, this is tantamount to “radicalism.” http://emilyslist.org/blog/The_Secret_Radicalism_of_Mitt_Romney_Part_2/index.html
If some conservatives are unsure about Romney’s position, just take a look at the lengths the pro-abortion movement is going to in order to tear him down. The constant bantering back and forth on the right questioning Romney’s stance on abortion does nothing but embolden the other side. Romney has demonstrated through word and action that he is an ally of the pro-life movement. In embracing Romney, we demonstrate our resolve to defeat President Obama. Now is the time to come together. The pro-abortion movement delights in our disunity.