Deal W. Hudson
In This Issue:
Some Questions for Gov. Mitt Romney
One of the likely candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination, outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has been in the news recently. Romney's positioning of himself as a pro-life, pro-family "social conservative" seems to be playing well in some states and among a few Evangelicals, but Boston-area grassroots Catholic activists familiar with his record are not so enthusiastic.
Reviewing his record as governor, a look at Romney's positions on abortion, emergency contraception, gay marriage, and gay adoption raises serious questions for Catholic voters.
Here's Part 1 of a report on Romney's record on key issues, some of which have been ignored by the mainstream media. Part 2, which will be given after New Year's, will cover Romney's record on gay marriage and gay adoption.
Today Romney describes himself as "pro-life," and explains he converted to this position in late 2004 at 57-years-old. But, his public statements and actions present a mixed history of pro-choice vs. pro-life positions with conflicting conversion stories.
Romney as Pro-Choice
During his 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy and in his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Romney campaigned as a pro-choice candidate. In a televised debate against Kennedy in October of 1994, Romney said he felt "abortion should be safe and legal in this country," and he believed this because his mother took that position in her 1970 US Senate campaign.
When Kennedy labeled his opponent, "multiple choice," Romney rebutted that since the time of a close relative's death from an illegal abortion years ago, "My mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that."
Romney thus suggested he may have previously been neutral or pro-life, but converted to pro-choice two years before Roe v Wade (Conversion #1). He maintained that pro-choice position through his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, when he answered to Planned Parenthood and NARAL questionnaires saying he supported "the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade," and ''I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose…Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government's."
Oddly, Romney refused to answer the candidate questionnaire sent to him that year by Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
Romney as Pro-Life
By spring of 2005, Romney was highlighting his personal opposition to abortion in out-of-state speeches. "I'm in a different place than I was probably in 1994, when I ran against Ted Kennedy, in my own views on that." On May 23, 2005 Romney was quoted in USA Today saying, he was "personally pro-life" but declining to say more. "I choose not to elaborate on those because I don't want to be confusing to people in my state."
Massachusetts Citizens for Life was "unimpressed with those moves," and still considered Romney an abortion-rights supporter.
Romney has attributed his pro-life conversion (Conversion #2) to a November 2004 stem cell research discussion with a Harvard researcher. He now claims he has joined company with other political figures such as Ronald Reagan and Henry Hyde who changed their views.
Everyone welcomes politicians who are open to realizing the truth about the evils of abortion. Reagan and Hyde changed their views once and became stalwart supporters of a culture of life.
But will Mitt Romney, if elected president, turn out like Ronald Reagan and Henry Hyde?
And is Romney asking us to believe he converted twice-first to pro-choice before abortion was ever legalized by Roe v Wade, and then 34 years later from pro-choice to pro-life as a result of one brief meeting?
What prevents Romney from converting back again? And how does he explain why one of his political consultants, Charles Manning, said, "Mitt has always been consistent in his pro-choice position" in 1994, while another Romney political consultant, Michael Murphy said last year, "He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as pro-choice friendly."
Which Mitt Romney should Catholic voters believe?
Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council summarized his view last year. "For a lot of people, especially Christian conservatives, it's one of those black and white issues. You're either pro-life or not. That's the trouble with Governor Romney -- he's gray."
The Boston Globe claims a visible result of Romney's abortion shift was his July 2005 veto of a bill making the "morning-after pill" (Plan B) available over-the-counter at state pharmacies and requiring hospitals to offer it to rape victims.
If Gov. Romney has indeed suddenly become committed to the culture of life in the past two years of his political life, why did he eliminate the conscience exemption allowing Catholic hospitals to opt-out of the intrusive law that his own Department of Public Health decided to grant them?
On December 7, 2005, the Globe reported that Romney's Department of Public Health had determined Catholic and other privately-run hospitals could opt out of giving the morning-after pill to rape victims because of religious or moral objections. A statute passed in previous years said privately-run hospitals could not be forced to provide abortions or contraception, and indeed, Article II of the Massachusetts Constitution guarantees such freedom of religious practice.
When pro-choice groups complained, Romney immediately caved-in, or "flip-flopped," as Massachusetts Democrats described it, saying that after legal review, his own lawyer found all hospitals in the state would be forced to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims.
On December 9, 2005 the Boston Globe reported, "Governor Mitt Romney reversed course on the state's new emergency contraception law...The decision overturns a ruling made public this week by the state Department of Public Health that privately run hospitals could opt out of the requirement if they objected on moral or religious grounds."
Will Romney, himself a Harvard-trained attorney, plan to bring the same timid legal counsel to Washington to protect and defend life?
Why did Gov. Romney not simply abide by the state constitution and the decision of his own Public Health Department? He instead abandoned Catholic hospitals, setting them up for possible court battles if they upheld their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion.