Romney and Abortion

The Romney campaign is circulating an op-ed written by Rep. Peter Hoekstra on Mitt Romney’s pro-life record in Human Events. “In all my years in the pro-life movement, I have always believed that our goal was not only to change laws, but to change minds – and we have changed many minds. Ronald Reagan, Henry Hyde, and countless others who at one point supported abortion rights later came to understand that human life at its very beginning moments must be protected…I can think of no better example of this change of heart than Governor Mitt Romney. He has traveled down a path of discovery, and explored the philosophical and scientific basis for the pro-life position. Now, he counts himself among the millions of Americans who oppose abortion on demand and scientific experimentation with human embryos.”

I’ve been more impressed with Romney’s campaign than many other commentators and completely disregard the rantings that some have made a big deal of. Romney has a decent answer on abortion and delivers it in a very consistent fashion. I do, however, have some question about the nature of Romney’s conversion.

Back in 2002, I was covering Romney’s run for governor in MA. Back then, there were many questions about his position on abortion. Writing for the Boston Phoenix, I thought Romney’s flip-flopping on social issues would hurt him. Back then, the issue was him moving from right-to-left for an electoral run in Massachusetts — as opposed to conservative-Utah where it looked like he might run for the U.S. Senate.

“As Romney has glided through much of the primary campaign, his right-leaning positions on social issues, such as abortion and gay rights, have remained free from scrutiny. O’Brien described Romney as ‘masquerading as a moderate’ Tuesday night. GOP lieutenant-gubernatorial candidate Jim Rappaport performed a valuable service to Democrats during his bitter primary battle with Romney’s hand-picked running mate, Kerry Murphy Healey, by forcing Romney to move right. One allegation made in Rappaport’s campaign mailings, which seems to have gotten under Romney’s skin, is that he and Healey support gay marriage. The Romney team evidently believed this claim to be so damning that they sent Healey to refute it on television. Of course, O’Brien, who backs civil unions, doesn’t support gay marriage either, but that’s beside the point. This is all about positioning. You won’t see O’Brien, who introduced the partner of her openly lesbian younger sister Gaelan on stage Tuesday night, traipsing around the state proclaiming her opposition to gay marriage the way Healey did in the waning days of the primary battle.

On abortion, things get even better for the Democratic ticket. In a July 2001 letter to the Salt Lake City Tribune, Romney declared, ‘I do not wish to be labeled pro-choice.’ He now promises Massachusetts voters that he won’t interfere with abortion rights and takes what is, in effect, a pro-choice position. Still, the relatively recent flip-flop won’t help him with women voters and others who care about choice in Massachusetts.”

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