The day before the next primary election battle for the Republican presidential candidates, this time in Florida, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has gained the support of a group of pro-life advocates.
Leading social conservatives in Florida today signed on to a letter previously released by nine pro-life activists in Massachusetts defending Romney’s record and change of heart on the issue of abortion.
“At the end of last month, nine Massachusetts leaders representing a broad coalition of conservative activists penned an open letter in support of Mitt Romney and outlined his commitment to the values that we hold dear,” the Florida pro-life activists said in a statement LifeNews received. “We felt that the letter that they wrote was very effective in helping many voters understand that Mitt Romney was a pro-life and a pro-family governor and that his record serves as public validation of his commitment to those same policies as President of the United States.”
“In light of the fact that in the past few days Newt Gingrich has used inflammatory language to mischaracterize Governor Romney’s record on the issues of life and family, we decided to re-release that same letter from those Massachusetts leaders under our own signature,” they said, adding they hope Florida voters “will not be discouraged by the destructive campaign tactics” they say Gingrich is using.
Some of the Florida pro-life activists who signed the statement, include pro-life state Rep. Rachel Burgin, Marili Cancio of the Christian Family Coalition, pro-life state Rep. Daniel Davis, pro-life state legislator Anitere Flores, Adam Goldman formerly of Florida Right to Life, Nancy McGowan formerly of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of St. Augustine, abstinence advocate Vicki Mullins, Pat Neal of the Christian Coalition of Florida, and pro-life former Congressman Dave Weldon.
The original letter, regarding Romney’s abortion views and newfound pro-life belief, reads as follows:
We hail from a broad spectrum of organizations dedicated to fighting for the pro-family agenda in Massachusetts. As you know, Mitt Romney served as the governor of our state from January 2, 2003 to January 3, 2007. During that time, we worked closely with him and his excellent staff on that agenda.
Some press accounts and bloggers have described Governor Romney in terms we neither have observed nor can we accept. To the contrary, we, who have been fighting here for the values you also hold, are indebted to him and his responsive staff in demonstrating solid social conservative credentials by undertaking the following actions here in Massachusetts. The following is not an endorsement of Governor Romney but our account of the facts to set the record straight.
* Fought for abstinence education. In 2006, under Governor Romney’s leadership, Massachusetts’ public schools began to offer a classroom program on abstinence from the faith-based Boston group Healthy Futures to middle school students. Promoting the program, Governor Romney stated, “I’ve never had anyone complain to me that their kids are not learning enough about sex in school. However, a number of people have asked me why it is that we do not speak more about abstinence as a safe and preventative health practice.”
* Affirmed the culture of life. Governor Romney vetoed bills to provide access to the so-called “morning-after pill,” which is an abortifacient, as well as a bill providing for expansive, embryo-destroying stem cell research. He vetoed the latter bill in 2005 because he could not “in good conscience allow this bill to become law.”
We do not agree with the claims that Gov. Romney is responsible for tax payer funded abortion under the Massachusetts health care system. That blame lies solely on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who ruled in 1981 that the Massachusetts Constitution required payment for abortions for Medicaid-eligible women. In 1997, the Court reaffirmed its position that a state-subsidized plan must offer “medically necessary abortions.”
We are aware of the 1994 comments of Senate candidate Romney, which have been the subject of much recent discussion. While they are, taken by themselves, obviously worrisome to social conservatives including ourselves, they do not dovetail with the actions of Governor Romney from 2003 until now – and those actions have positively and demonstrably impacted the social climate of Massachusetts.
Since well before 2003, we have been laboring in the trenches of Massachusetts, fighting for the family values you and we share. It is difficult work indeed – not for the faint of heart. In this challenging environment, Governor Romney has proven that he shares our values, as well as our determination to protect them.
For four years, Governor Romney was right there beside us, providing leadership on key issues – whether it was politically expedient to do so or not. He has stood on principle, and we have benefited greatly from having him with us.
It is clear that Governor Romney has learned much since 1994 – to the benefit of our movement and our Commonwealth. In fact, the entire nation has benefited from his socially conservative, pro-family actions in office.
A group of conservative leaders in Massachusetts, led by Kris Mineau, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Family Institute, Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, and Ray Ruddy, President of the Gerard Health Foundation were behind the letter.
Other signers of the document include Rita Covelle, President, Morality in Media Massachusetts; Gerald D. D’Avolio, Former Executive Director, Massachusetts Catholic Conference; Raymond L. Flynn, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See; Dr. Roberto Miranda, COPAHNI Fellowship of Hispanic Pastors of New England; James F. Morgan, Chairman, Institute for Family Development; Joseph Reilly, Former Chairman of the Board, Massachusetts Citizens for Life; and Thomas A. Shields, Chairman, Coalition for Marriage and Family.