by Steven Ertelt
January 3, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced the creation of an exploratory committee that may lead to a campaign to obtain the Republican nomination for president in 2008. Romney recently converted to the pro-life position and says he now opposes abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
In launching the exploratory bid, Romney more officially joins a crowded field of contenders looking to replace President George W. Bush.
"We’ve filed exploratory papers today, so the process is moving forward on that front," Romney told reporters Wednesday.
An exploratory committee allows potential presidential candidates to raise and spend money in as they contemplate a candidacy.
As a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994 and governor, Romney campaign as someone who supported some limits on abortion such as no taxpayer funding or parental notification but said he backed legalized abortion.
That changed, Romney has said in interviews during the last 12 to 18 months, as he began to confront the issue of stem cell research.
In an interview last month with Kathryn Lopez of National Review, Romney responded to concerns from pro-life advocates that he’s "faking" a pro-life position because he’s running for president.
"I believe people will see that as governor, when I had to examine and grapple with this difficult issue, I came down on the side of life," Romney said.
He was referring to his veto of a bill that would have promoted embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts. While some pro-life lawmakers have upset pro-life advocates by supporting the research, which requires the destruction of days-old unborn children, Romney opposed the practice.
Romney said he is "committed to promoting the culture of life" and admitted that "like Ronald Reagan, and Henry Hyde, and others who became pro-life, I had this issue wrong in the past."
As he has said in previous interviews, Romney told Lopez how his abortion viewpoint shifted and pointed to the issue of embryonic stem cell research.
After meeting with Harvard researchers, who told him that embryonic stem cell research shouldn’t be a moral issue because the unborn children were killed for their stem cells 14 days after conception, Romney realized he had been wrong on abortion.
"After the meeting I looked over at Beth Myers, my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction — it just hit us hard just how much the sanctity of life had been cheapened by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality," Romney told National Review.
"And from that point forward, I said to the people of Massachusetts, ‘I will continue to honor what I pledged to you, but I prefer to call myself pro-life,’" he said.
The governor told National Review that his view of future abortion law is that Roe should be overturned and states should be free to prohibit abortions.
"I do believe that the one-size-fits-all, abortion-on-demand-for-all-nine-months decision in Roe v. Wade does not serve the country well and is another example of judges making the law instead of interpreting the Constitution," he said.
"What I would like to see is the Court return the issue to the people to decide," he added.
Romney’s stance is crucial because it comes at a time when the two potential Republican presidential candidates who are leading in the polls are not completely pro-life.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani supports both abortion and embryonic stem cell research and Arizona Sen. John McCain has been inconsistent on his pro-life position on abortion and voted to force taxpayers to fund the controversial science.
As a result, pro-life advocates may look to Romney as the pro-life alternative — especially if solid pro-life candidates like Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, California Rep. Duncan Hunter or others fail to catch fire in the primaries.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who opposes abortion, and former Health and Human Services Secretary and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who opposes abortion but supports embryonic stem cell research, are also looking at potential presidential bids on the Republican side.
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who opposes abortion, is also considering a bid as well.