by Steven Ertelt
January 11, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The debut of a video on the Internet this week is causing more headaches for potential Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor and recent pro-life convert was forced to defend his newfound beliefs after a 1994 video surfaced showing him defending legalized abortion.
Romney ran against pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994 as a pro-abortion candidate who supported some limits such as parental notification or no tax funding for abortions.
Later, during his term as governor, Romney was confronted with the issue of embryonic stem cell research and changed his position to oppose both that and abortion.
This week a 1994 videotape of Romney defending his older pro-abortion views was posted on the popular YouTube video web site.
Romney replies to a question in the video and says: "One of the great things about our nation is we’re each entitled to have strong personal beliefs — and we encourage other people to do the same. … I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country."
Responding to the video, Romney appeared on a radio talk show and said, "I was wrong on some issues back then."
"If you want to know where I stand by the way, you don’t just have to listen to my words, you can go to look at my record as governor," Romney said during an appearance on the "Glenn and Helen Show," a radio program.
Romney, who announced his exploratory committee last week, has issued numerous interviews over the last two years explaining his change of heart on pro-life issues.
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.