Debate Over Mitt Romney’s Position on Abortion Continues

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Debate Over Mitt Romney’s Position on Abortion Continues Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 6, 2005

Boston, MA ( — Debate is continuing over the apparent change in Mitt Romney’s position on the issue of abortion. Possible seeking a bid to capture the Republican nomination for president, the Massachusetts governor has hinted that he no longer supports legal abortion.

Romney started out his political career with a 1994 candidacy for the U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy. He indicated he supported legalized abortion but also backed pro-life legislation such as not using taxpayer funds to pay for them and a ban on partial-birth abortions.

In a late May interview with USA Today, Romney said he "is in a different place" on abortion now.

”Understand, over time one’s perspective changes somewhat," Romney told the newspaper. ”I’m in a different place than I was probably in 1994, when I ran against Ted Kennedy, in my own views on that."

Last week, Romney expanded on that interview and told the National Review that ”[m]y political philosophy is pro-life."

The magazine’s news story also caused a minor flap when Michael Murphy, a top Romney political adviser, said Romney was a ”pro-life Mormon faking it as pro-choice friendly."

However, Romney stold the Associated Press that Murphy told him he used the phrase to describe the way opponents characterize Romney’s abortion views.

"He ex-pressed to me a clarification of his comment," Romney said. "He’s a good friend and I accept that clarification."

Romney also told AP: "I am opposed to abortion, but I indicated that I would maintain the laws as they exist in Massachusetts, and I’ve done exactly that. That’s been my promise, continues to be my promise. I’ve stated from the beginning what my position would be as governor, and I’ve honored that. I intend to honor it because I take my promises very seriously."

What Romney means when he says he is pro-life is another question.

Romney made news in February when he made a speech at a meeting of South Carolina Republicans and called himself pro-life. He later told reporters, "My position is the same, I do not favor abortion personally – I’m personally pro-life, if you will. But I do favor maintaining the laws in the commonwealth as they are, and that’s the commitment I made.”

That kind of "personally opposed" position has never won lawmakers support form pro-life groups and many pro-life advocates say the jury is still out on Romney’s views.

Daniel McConchie, director of public relations and public policy for Americans United For Life, a pro-life legal group, told the Boston Globe that pro-life advocates will be cautious until Romney does something substantive to back up his statements.

”Some people will probably still be pretty wary until he puts pen to paper on a bill," McConchie said.

Marie Sturgis, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told the Globe that Romney’s recent comments have left her confused on where the governor stands.

”It’s my sense that he may be evolving on this issue; what that means, I don’t know," Sturgis said.

Peg Whitbread, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told the Boston newspaper that she also sees Romney’s views evolving.

”My personal perspective on this is that he’s changing," Whitbread said. ”This may be a flag that is being run up as a sign for the future. But actions speak louder than words. I think we’ve known too many so-called pro-life politicians that have gotten into office and then abandoned ship."