As a pro-lifer, watching this short video initially made me feel better about a Mitt Romney nomination and a potential Romney presidency:
The most important part of the ad comes at 0:51 when Ms. Mary Ann Glendon recalls three of Romney’s pro-life accomplishments. According to Glendon, when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed a bill that would have enabled embryonic-destructive research, vetoed legislation that would have permitted the over-the-counter sale of the morning-after pill and supported abstinence education in schools.
“Governor Romney was a great friend to the pro-life movement in Massachusetts,” she says.
It’s a nice, feel-good sentiment, and I really want to fall for it. But, somehow, I still can’t get past Romneycare, which allows for taxpayer-funded, elective, surgical abortions. Then, too, Romney granted pro-choice judge Matthew Nestor a lifetime appointment in a Massachusetts court (albeit a court that deals with civil and criminal issues, not constitutional issues like abortion rights). He also paved the way for the approval of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Worcester, Mass., that would provide abortions. All of that was after his 2004 pro-life “conversion.”
In that context, the pro-life accomplishments cited by Glendon seem less the work of one who is committed to eradicate abortion than one who wants to make abortion “safe, legal and rare.” That doesn’t mean I think Romney is pro-abortion. According to his wife, she and he have always been privately pro-life. His rhetoric and his record just suggest that he is conflicted as to how best to put that private conviction into practice as a public official. As the group American Right to Life puts it, when it comes to politicians like Mitt Romney, to be personally pro-life is all-too-often to be officially pro-choice. Sadly, that does seem to sum up Romney’s position(s) on abortion. (For proof, see the clip below of him in 2007. He admits that he all too often keeps his personal, philosophical views on abortion out of his official decision-making process on issues related to it.)
Romney would do better to stick to his defense of capitalism; in the end, all this ad does is remind me why he worries me.
Update: Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com informs me that Mitt Romney couldn’t do anything to forestall the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions under Romneycare (other than not pass the bill in the first place). He also reminds me to take the group American Right to Life with a grain of salt.
Meanwhile, David French, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, warns not to believe “misleading attacks” on Mitt Romney’s abortion record:
So, where does this leave us? Mitt’s actions as governor were worthy of his pro-life award. Even the worst action (allowing Planned Parenthood access to a payment advisory board — something I definitely don’t agree with) had zero impact on abortions in Massachusetts. When he could have an impact, he vetoed expanded access to the morning-after pill and vetoed expanded stem cell research. Crucially, he also became an advocate for life in a state that badly needs such advocates. Writing in the Boston Globe on July 26, 2005, Mitt said this:
“You can’t be a prolife governor in a prochoice 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.
In some respects, these convictions have 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.”
If we’re going to win the battle for life, we need converts — like Ronald Reagan and like Mitt Romney. If I had the slightest doubt that Mitt Romney would govern as a pro-life president, I wouldn’t be an “evangelical for Mitt.”