Automated anonymous text messages sent to Iowa Republicans just days before they head to their presidential caucuses are telling them that Romney is supposedly not pro-life but relying on outdated quotes to make the claim.
Republicans in Iowa received cell phone text messages yesterday morning, according to MSNBC, saying, “Romney exposed at 2012 caucuses. Romney pro life??”
The text message lists an automated 515 area code phone number for recipients to call and it plays an automated message quoting Romney from 1994 — more than a decade before he experienced a change of heart on abortion and converted to the pro-life position.
“Mitt Romney on life,” a unidentified man says. Romney’s voice is heard next as an audio clip plays of him taking a position favoring legalized abortion from a 1994 debate when he ran against pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy.
“As a nation, we recognize the right of all people to believe as they want and not to impose our beliefs on other people,” Romney said then.
MSNBC indicates neither the text message nor the automated message providing any identifying information as to who is behind the anonymous attack on Romney, who has the support of pro-life advocates who say his conversion to the pro-life viewpoint is authentic.
Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho responded to the calls in an email to the television news station saying Romney is solidly pro-life and will not modified that position in the future.
During a debate earlier this month, Romney defended his decision to become pro-life.
“With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I’m going to keep the laws as they exist in the state,” Romney said in response to a question from the Fox News panel. “And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice.”
Romney relayed again how confronting the issue of embryonic stem cell research and the purposeful creation and destruction of human embryos — unique human beings days after conception — prompted him to reconsider his position.
“Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn’t just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill,” Romney said.
“I went to the — to the Boston Globe. I described for them why I am pro-life. Every decision I took as governor was taken on the side of life. I am firmly pro-life,” he said.
Romney said his pro-life conversion is akin to other elected officials who reassessed their abortion views and compiled strong pro-life records after doing so.
“I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 — 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself,” he said.
In a recent column, conservative writer Kathleen Parker tackled the subject of Romey’s conversion and said she believes his decision to become pro-life on abortion is a heartfelt one.
“So how does a person change from one position to the polar opposite on such a core issue as abortion? Easy. Countless women have changed their minds, thanks to pregnancy and birth. Countless others have suffered the agony of revelation too late following an abortion. Men overjoyed by fatherhood, or crushed by the loss of a child through abortion, have also changed their minds,” Parker writes.
“So how does a person change from one position to the polar opposite on such a core issue as abortion? Easy. Countless women have changed their minds, thanks to pregnancy and birth. Countless others have suffered the agony of revelation too late following an abortion. Men overjoyed by fatherhood, or crushed by the loss of a child through abortion, have also changed their minds,” Parker continues. “As governor at the time, Romney was under intense pressure to help flip a state law that protected embryos from stem-cell research. Some of that pressure came from Harvard University, Romney’s alma mater, where scientists hoped to assume a leading role in stem-cell research.”
“The politically expedient choice was obvious, but Romney took a more thoughtful approach and sought to educate himself before staking out a position. Enter William Hurlbut, a physician and professor of biomedical ethics at Stanford University Medical School. For several hours, Hurlbut and Romney met in the governor’s office and went through the dynamics of conception, embryonic development and the repercussions of research that targets nascent human life. It was not a light lunch,” Parker writes.
“The politically expedient choice was obvious, but Romney took a more thoughtful approach and sought to educate himself before staking out a position. Enter William Hurlbut, a physician and professor of biomedical ethics at Stanford University Medical School. For several hours, Hurlbut and Romney met in the governor’s office and went through the dynamics of conception, embryonic development and the repercussions of research that targets nascent human life. It was not a light lunch,” she continues.
Hurlbut talked with Parker for the column and told her Romney’s conversations with him is still a vivid memory.
He said Romney “clearly recognized the significance of the issue, not just as a current controversy but as a matter that would define the character of our culture way into the future.”
“Second, it was obvious that he had put in a real effort to understand both the scientific prospects and the broader social implications. Finally, I was impressed by both his clarity of mind and sincerity of heart. He recognized that this was not a matter of purely abstract theory or merely pragmatic governance, but a crucial moment in how we are to regard nascent human life and the broader meaning of medicine in the service of life,” Hurlbut said.
Other pro-life advocates have come away convinced Romney is pro-life.
Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and a Harvard University law professor, defended Romney in a national Catholic Register interview:
“After participating in a searching no-holds-barred conversation among Mitt, his wife, Anne, and a group of pro-life activists in March 2007,” Glendon said, “I was completely convinced of his sincerity on the life issues. The pro-life movement has staked so much on the confidence that people’s minds can be changed that it would be strange to accuse a person of ‘flip-flopping’ when, as in Mitt’s case, his mind and heart have brought him to respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”
Romney has his pro-life supporters: people like National Right to Life legal counsel James Bopp and Dr. Jack Willke, considered the father of the modern pro-life movement, endorsed him in 2008. Jordan Sekulow of the ACLJ is another prominent pro-life advocate who has been in the Romney camp.
“I don’t think Romney will go back on his pro-life commitment,” Willke said.
But Phil Lawler of Catholic World News told NCR “I don’t trust him. He’s made it clear that the life issues don’t count for much with him. They’re not his issues.”
Still, Romney understands one of the top priorities for the pro-life movement at current, de-funding Planned Parenthood. He has repeatedly called for de-funding in recent weeks and that has earned him attacks from the abortion business.