mitt romney: conveniently pro-life?

those of you who have been reading this blog for a few months know that i have supported the idea of governor mitt romney running for president in ’08 from the beginning. i like the fact that he has reduced the size of government in massachusetts. his message also appeals to me. i think that a message that speaks to issues of concern to many americans, including education, health care, and the necessary reform of social services, is the right one for republicans to adopt. i’m glad romney is talking about these things, and i hope that the message will be copied by other republicans who want to be our next president.

i like romney. have i been clear enough about that? however, i think his conflicting views on abortion are going to end up being a stumbling block for him on the road to the republican nomination.

the following exchange took place between governor romney and chris wallace on fox news sunday.

WALLACE: You have come under fire for allegedly flip-flopping on the issue of abortion. You’ve faced questions about that, so let’s talk about that today. When you were running for governor of Massachusetts back in 2002, you said — and let’s put it up on the screen — “I believe women should have the right to make their own choice.”

But now that you’re considering a race for president, you say you’re a pro-life governor who wishes the laws of the nation could reflect that view. Governor, why the change?

ROMNEY: Well, we had a major issue in Massachusetts, and it surrounded stem cell research. I spent a lot of time talking with people scientific in background as well as religious and spent a lot of time understanding when it was that as a society we needed to respect human life and came to the conclusion that it’s time to be very clear on that, that when conception occurs that human life has begun.

I’m not talking about religious definitions, but scientific definitions — and that to respect human life, we have to do so from conception. And therefore, I indicated I am pro-life and will respect the rights of human life.

WALLACE: But I don’t understand, Governor. I mean, the stem cell question, which often deals with the question of harvesting of eggs or fetuses to be used for stem cell — that isn’t why most women get abortions. I mean, there’s a division there, isn’t there?

ROMNEY: Well, there is a division there, and I’m happy to talk about stem cell research.

WALLACE: Well, no, but I’m asking about abortion. I mean, the vast majority of women aren’t getting an abortion so that they can sell their fetus.

ROMNEY: No, this is about when respect for life begins and when we as a society — and I believe fundamentally in a society there has to be respect for human life.

And when I ran for governor, I said very clearly I do not support abortion, I do not favor abortion, but I will maintain a moratorium on any change in the laws of Massachusetts relating to abortion.

One of the big issues in our race was whether there was going to be a reduction in the age of parental involvement in abortion from 18 to 16. I said no, no change in abortion laws. But I didn’t call myself pro-life or pro-choice. But after…

WALLACE: But you did say, as I said in the quote, women should have the right to make their own choice. I guess the question I have is are you saying that you only came to the conclusion about when life begins — this has been an issue for 30 years, 40 years — in the last three years?

ROMNEY: Chris, what I’m saying is that my position has evolved and it changed from where it was before. And I said — and the time of the change came as we were involved in the discussion of stem cell research, and I said at that point I am pro-life.

I’ve never used either title, pro-life or pro-choice, in the past. I said I don’t favor abortion. I wouldn’t change the laws as governor because I believe each state should have the right to make their own choice. But I’m very firmly pro-life.

i don’t think romney had a very strong answer to chris wallace’s questions about abortion. there are some things in his record that he can’t gloss over by talking about his views on stem cell research. romney has the inconvenient problem of trying to survive politically in a hard-core democratic (some might even say a liberal) state. i guess i could see the necessity of occasional compromises, but an issue like abortion is something that a governor who wants to be president should have decided one way or the other. the theory that the next republican nominee will most likely be pro-life seems logical to me, and it makes sense that romney would want to position himself that way.

there’s some contradictory evidence that romney may not be “firmly pro-life” as he says. it’s hard to distance yourself from supporting the legalization of RU-486, the abortion-inducing drug. he also has made past statements, in which he says that he is personally opposed to abortion, but that he would not attempt to change the laws of massachusetts to reflect that belief. that might be a hard sell to many in the pro-life community.
romney’s position that the states should decide on whether abortion should be legal or not sounds reasonable to me, but i’m not sure it will satisfy his critics on this issue. it’s possible to change your mind on abortion. i just hope that romney’s “firmly pro-life” position is genuine, and not a position taken for political advantage. i would like to believe that it is genuine. we will see what other pro-lifers think closer to the ’08 election.


Romney reaches out to party’s evangelical base–the state (SC)
Romney Touts Conservative Credentials in S.C.–chris cillizza’s politics blog (