A Report on the Pro-life Views of Governor Mitt Romney
POSTED: June 10, 2007
Due to an unusual amount of confusion over the pro-life position of Governor Mitt Romney, MassResistance has issued this report. Much of this confusion is caused not only by the Governor's ever changing positions, but also by the endorsement of Romney by a few pro-family leaders who have apparently failed to do their due diligence before endorsing him. Moreover, this confusion is further compounded by some conservative publications that for reasons unbeknownst to us have refused to report the full and complete story on Romney's pro-life views.
Such obfuscation by conservative leaders and publications does a disservice to the conservative movement and to the pro-life movement in particular. We hope that this report will shed some light on where Governor Romney stands on this culture-defining issue.
THE TOP SIX PROBLEMS: Since Romney's famous pro-life "conversion" in November 2004, note the following -
1. Romney said that he does not favor a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, but instead favors each state deciding for itself whether to allow abortion or not. (Suppose Lincoln had taken that approach on the slavery issue. )
2. Gov. Romney signed into law a universal health insurance plan that (a) includes increased state-funded abortions, and (b) names Planned Parenthood in the law as an overseer. Romney never challenged any of that.
3. Romney said he would disagree with governmental intervention in the Terri Schiavo forced starvation case, adding "I think it's probably best to leave these kinds of matters in the hands of the courts."
4. Gov. Romney forced Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts to dispense the "morning after" pill.
5. Romney said he does not object to stem cell research using left over human embryos.
6. Although Romney vetoed pro-abortion legislation after his "conversion", it always appeared to be for political effect. The Legislature always overrode the vetoes. We never saw Romney exert any substantial effort to get his vetoes sustained.
Romney's Pro-Abortion History
Mitt Romney hails from a liberal Mormon tradition that supports abortion rights. While this is not a large faction within the LDS Church, it does exist and there have been LDS leaders who have supported Roe vs. Wade ever since its inception.
In the 1960's, George Romney, Mitt's father, was considered one of the key leaders of the liberal wing of the GOP, and along with Nelson Rockefeller and others, worked incessantly to move the Republican Party to a more liberal position on both social and fiscal issues.
Romney's mother, Lenore Romney, was one of the early Republican Party proponents of abortion. During her candidacy for the US Senate in Michigan she announced:
I support and recognize the need for more liberal abortion rights while reaffirming the legal and medical measures needed to protect the unborn and pregnant women.
This was in 1970, three years before the Roe vs. Wade decision. At the time, performing an abortion was a felony.
Mitt Romney has a long history of supporting pro-abortion candidates and causes, and aggressively sought the support and endorsement of groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Indeed, Romney is still listed today as a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group supported by Billionaire leftist George Soros dedicated to shifting the GOP leftward on social issues such as abortion rights and stem cell research.
Romney also has a history of assisting the careers of other prominent pro-abortion politicians. In the 1992 presidential race, Romney endorsed and voted for pro-abortion liberal Democrat Paul Tsongas in the Democrat primary and just three years ago endorsed and made a television ad for Democrat Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, a former Planned Parenthood attorney.
As Governor, he issued state proclamations honoring "Right to Privacy Day" which until 2005, specifically referenced the Roe vs. Wade case.
Romney repeatedly took extreme stances on abortion throughout his career and consistently made statements such as this one:
I believe that Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it….
There simply is no doubt that Romney was one of the most pro-abortion Republican office holders in the country.
In his current campaign, Romney has sought to play down his prior support for abortion, giving the impression that he never really strongly supported abortion, but new revelations reported by the Los Angeles Times demonstrate otherwise.
Notes taken by key leaders of the nation's most radical pro-abortion group, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), reveal that at a 2002 meeting, Romney assured them he would work to soften the GOP stance on abortion and said that the GOP's pro-life position was "killing them."
He also promised to fight efforts by conservatives to require abstinence-only sex education in the schools.
These are not the comments of someone who took this issue lightly, but rather the words of a person deeply committed to the pro-abortion issue.
Romney's Conversion. Was it Authentic?
Romney says he became "pro-choice" two years before Roe vs. Wade became law as a result of a death of relative due to an illegal abortion. But then, in November of 2004, at age 57 years old, he claimed to have had a second conversion about the issue while meeting with a stem cell researcher from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Romney claimed the researcher told him,
Look, you don't have to think about this stem cell research as a moral issue, because we kill the embryos after 14 days.
However, the media located the scientist, Dr. Douglas Melton, and he
stated he never said such a thing:
Governor Romney has mischaracterized my position; we didn't discuss killing or anything related to it….I explained my work to him, told him about my deeply held respect for life, and explained that my work focuses on improving the lives of those suffering from debilitating diseases.
It's a troubling conversion story. If Romney was disturbed by the destruction of a 14 day old embryo created in a test tube, then how did he not realized after all his years in politics that millions of unborn babies - some as old as six months -- were being destroyed? How can he walk away appalled that stem cell research kills life but then turn around and
continue to support the killing of embryos for stem cell research? (see below)
And then there's the question of his wife Ann. A long time member of the moderate Republican Party establishment in Massachusetts, one of her jobs while her husband was governor appears to be to reassure liberal voters that her husband can be trusted to support abortion rights. Indeed, a 2002 video has now surfaced on YouTube with Mrs. Romney doing just that:
I think they [referring to pro-abortion women] may be more nervous about him on social issues. They shouldn't be, because he's gonna be just fine.
Romney himself chimes in, "So when asked, will I preseve and protect a women's right to choose, I make an unequivocal answer: Yes." You can watch this at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKwVNUz52vo
Incredibly, Ann is now being assigned by the Romney campaign to speak to pro-life groups about her husband's pro-life credentials. Are we being asked to believe that she also had an epiphany on this issue at the same time her husband did?
We do believe that some people sincerely change their views, but we believe Romney's pro-life conversion to be suspect for many reasons. He doesn't appear to have converted on all issues related to life, the conversion story itself is suspect, and he doesn't appear to understand the moral aspects of this issue. Moreover, his conversion occurred around the same time period when he started to consider running for higher office.
Romney's current view on abortion
1. Romney's current view on abortion appears to be based more on a procedural stance than a moral view and is not necessarily a pro-life view.
Instead of focusing on the moral case against abortion, Romney has repeatedly stated he wants the people to vote on this issue, which, in of in itself is not a pro-life position unless you also agree to use your position to pass pro-life legislation. But when pressed on whether he would support a constitutional amendment banning abortion, he refuses to answer this question. The National Journal (February 10, 2007) pressed him on this point:
You would favor a constitutional amendment banning abortion with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest. Is that correct?
What I've indicated is that I am pro-life, and that my hope is that the Supreme Court will give to the states over time or give to the states soon or give to the states their own ability to make their own decision with regard to their abortion law.
If a state wanted unlimited abortion?
The state would fall into restrictions that had been imposed at the federal level, so they couldn't be more expansive in abortion than currently exists under the law, but they could become more restrictive in abortion provisions. So states like Massachusetts could stay like they are if they so desire, and states that have a different view could take that course. And it would be up to the citizens of the individual states. My view is not to impose a single federal rule on the entire nation -- a one-size-fits-all approach -- but instead allow states to make their own decisions in this regard.
On February 28, 2005 - also after his conversion - Romney said:
I am personally pro-life. However, as governor I would not change the laws of the commonwealth relating to abortion.
When the reporter asked if he favors making abortion illegal, Romney stopped the interview by stating:
But that's the furthest I'm going to take you right now.
These statements make it clear he does not favor using his political authority to advance the pro-life position. If he's not willing to do this, then we question his pro-life commitment. His position on abortion appears to be more about democratic voting rights and not about the moral evil of abortion. He never says specifically how he would use his power to protect the sanctity of life nor has been able to clarify the moral reasons why he is opposed to the procedure itself.
2. Romney's 2006 health care plan vastly increases state-funded abortions.
While there are court decisions requiring state health care plans that receive Medicaid funding to fund all "medically necessary" abortions, the Romney plan funds all abortions with no restrictions. Moreover, the creation of a state-wide government entity that widely promotes abortion services will of course increase the number of state-funded abortions.
Furthermore, the Romney administration wrote the health care plan with the requirement that everyone must have health insurance and creates a subsidy for those who cannot afford it. Therefore it subsidizes the insurance of low income women and creates a new category of state-subsidized abortions. Nor, to anyone's knowledge, did Romney make any attempt to exclude or even minimize abortions in the health care plan. Thus, it is a fact that Romney is responsible for the expansion of state funded abortion. With Planned Parenthood serving on the plan's advisory board (as written into the law itself), should we be surprised by any of this?
To understand how a whole new class of people will have abortions paid for by the state, Massachusetts has an uninsured population of 460,000 people which means there are anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 women not previously eligible who are now eligible for state-funded abortions.
In response to revelations in the media about this, the Romney campaign released a statement claiming that "decisions [about the health care plan] were made separate of the Romney Administration."
But this is deceitful. When Romney gave a speech about his health care plan at the Heritage Foundation, he made clear, as the Heritage Foundation's web site does, that the plan was his idea and his design. He was the main architect of the plan; he lobbied for its passage; he signed it into law, and he boasted about it on the campaign trail for many months. Only after it was revealed that the plan dramatically increases state funded abortions has Romney left it out of his campaign speeches.
3. Romney's current position on the stem cell research issue is NOT the accepted pro-life position
Much has been made of Romney's alleged conversion after meeting with a stem cell researcher, but a total conversion apparently never occurred. The only aspect of this issue he changed his mind on was the creation of human embryos for research purposes (cloning). However, he continues to this day to support research on stem cells:
Stem cell research does not require the cloning of human embryos. Some stem cells today are obtained from surplus embryos from in-vitro fertilization. I support that research, provided that those embryos are obtains after a rigorous parental consent process that includes adoption as an alternative.
In other words, Romney is opposed to cloning but not embryonic stem cell research, but there is no moral distinction between the two.
As Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee recently stated, "He's still in favor of killing the new lives that are in existence right now." Even the pro-Romney National Review magazine states that, "Romney has decided to support experimentation on surplus frozen embryos from in-vitro fertilization procedures."
This position should not surprise anyone since Romney stated in 2006 that his views on stem cell research are NOT grounded in religious or moral beliefs:
I'm not talking about from a religious standpoint. I'm talking about from the medical and scientific standpoint….
4. Romney forced Catholic hospitals in 2005 to dispense the "morning after" pill
When the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law requiring all hospitals to provide women with the morning after abortion pill, Romney's Department of Public Health determined that private religious hospitals were exempt from the statute due to both current law and the religious freedom protections in the Massachusetts Constitution. As Daniel Avila, Associate
Director of Public Policy for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference stated,
The new bill does not expressly nullify the older statute, the conscience protection already on the books still remains in force.
The Boston Globe interviewed State Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. and reported that Cote said that "his department felt strongly that the new emergency contraception law did not compel all hospitals to provide the morning-after pill."
However, there was a huge outcry from the pro-abortion lobby and within days, Romney bowed to this pressure and overruled his own Health Department by interpreting the statute to illegally apply to private hospitals.
He then shocked everyone by publicly agreeing with the decision:
I think, in my personal view, it's the right thing for Hospitals [referring to private hospitals] to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape.
This displays an astounding ignorance of religious freedom. Even if there were some disagreement over whether the new statute applied to private religious hospitals, Romney should have stood firm in favor of religious hospitals. Yes, there may have been litigation, but he had the state constitution, the Bill of Rights, previous statute, and his own Department of Health on his side. Instead, he allowed the liberal attorneys who surround him to advise him to allow an unprecedented attack on religious freedom. This occurred AFTER his conversion.
5. Romney appointed pro-abortion judges
Governor Romney appointed 36 judges but a check of their political affiliation confirms that only 9 of them are Republicans. Two are radical gay activists and 14 are registered Democrats. The remainder are unenrolled. Since Massachusetts Democrats are among the most pro-abortion Democrats in America, we have to assume that the majority of Romney's judicial appointments are NOT pro-life.
Take for example, Steve Abany, a hard left Democrat and a prominent gay activist involved with the effort to legalized homosexual marriage in Massachusetts. Romney appointed him to the bench in May of 2005, which was, again, well after his pro-life "conversion." Any bets that he's pro-life?
Nor can we find any evidence that the Governor tried to recruit judges who respect life. Romney's defenders claim he had no choice because a entity called the Governor's Council controls the process and is composed of Democrats, but we've found that this council serves mostly as a rubber stamp and is set up purely to ensure judicial nominees are qualified, not to oppose them on ideological grounds. Indeed, there is no evidence that the Governor's Council has ever blocked any judicial nominees on ideological grounds.
Many of these judicial appointments were made in the last three years, SINCE Romney's alleged conversion.
The Romney campaign also claims that his judicial selections as governor had nothing to do with abortion and was more about the nominee's stance on local issues such as crime. However, the Los Angeles Times has revealed that notes taken at a 2002 NARAL endorsement meeting attended by Romney, reveal that he assured its leaders his judicial picks would be more likely to protect abortion rights than those of a Democrat governor!
These notes demonstrate that he did indeed use the abortion issue to inform his judicial selections, but not in the way we would have wanted. Once again, the Romney campaign is not being truthful.
With the next president appointing 1-2 justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and a slew of Federal judges, Romney's judicial selections should alarm those who care about family values and the sanctity of life. The fact that only five years ago he assured NARAL's leaders that he would appoint pro-abortion judges should cause every pro-lifer in the country to doubt his sincerity on this issue.
It is also notable that Romney is still listed as a prominent member of the Republican Main Street Partnership which publicly praised Senator John Chafee for his vote against the confirmation of Judge Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. This may be the biggest pro-life achievement of the Bush Administration, but Romney's group was not happy about it. There is no evidence that Romney opposed this action.
It really doesn't matter how often Romney announces he will appoint "strict constructionists" to the bench; if he can't be truthful about the criteria he used to select judges while Governor and didn't even bother to fill all the judicial vacancies in his own state, how can he be trusted to appoint solid judges while president?
6. Romney' opinion on the Terry Schiavo case: Let the courts force euthanasia.
On March 10th, Romney was questioned on television about the Terri Schiavo case in which heroic efforts were made by the State and by Congress to save her life. Without his professional handlers by his side to tell him what to say, here what the press reported him as saying:
He's campaigning hard for support from Republican socialconservatives, but presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Saturday he disagreed with the government's intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. 'I think it's probably best to leave these kinds of matters in the hands of the courts.'
However, this view is consistent with his abortion stance. Forget about the life involved, let the people decide or let the courts decide. Once again, Romney doesn't seem to understand the moral implications involved here.
The Republican Party establishment has a history of promoting candidates to the pro-life movement who often are not pro-life. The pro-life movement needs to be wary of such efforts and needs to remain focused on supporting candidates who share our values and not be misled by candidates whose views are constantly "evolving."
We believe that Romney's recent pro-life statements and public stands are driven by political ambition and the cold calculations about Republican primary voters, not the result of any genuine "conversion."
Governor Romney's failure to fight for the rights of private religious hospitals, his inattention to the types of judges he appointed, his involvement with a health care plan that vastly increases state funded abortions, his inconsistency on the embryonic stem cell issue, his ignorance of the evil of euthanasia and his failure to enunciate the moral objections to abortion have convinced us that he does not fundamentally understand life issues nor is it an important part of his worldview.
In order to justify Romney's extreme flip-flops on the abortion issue, the Romney campaign has issued statements comparing Romney to Ronald Reagan since Reagan signed a pro-abortion bill into law as California governor before becoming pro-life. This is an inaccurate comparison.
When Reagan signed the abortion bill in 1970, very little was known about the procedure as this was before ultra sound and before research showing that a baby's heart and nervous system is developed in utero far earlier than was previously known. Reagan later called that decision the worst one in his career and authored a book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, that went into great detail about the moral consequences of abortion.
In contrast, Romney has had access to the latest research on abortion, has never apologized for his previous stances and cannot seem to carry on a discussion about the moral implications. Moreover, Romney continues to support abortion related issues such as stem cell research and euthanasia and refuses to state if he would use his political position to support actual pro-life legislation. This is a far cry from Ronald Reagan.
Based on our research, we therefore do not believe Governor Mitt Romney will represent the views of the pro-life community if elected President of the United States.