by Steven Ertelt
January 24, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Until Wednesday, discussion about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s position change on abortion and pro-life issues hasn’t involved other potential Republican presidential candidates. That changed when pro-life Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback implied he’s the better candidate for pro-life voters.
"I think you have to look at where he stood on the issues and what he said publicly," Brownback said of Romney in an interview with CBN on Wednesday.
"At times he’s said different things on these issues. I think that’s all going to come out during a long campaign," Brownback added.
"I do think when we get out on the campaign trail and when the campaign really gets fully engaged, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about where do people actually stand on the issues and where have they been and where are they now and how reliable are they to stay that way," he explained.
Romney has run for office previously as a candidate who favors some limits on abortion but supported keeping it legal. As recently as 2002, he told Massachusetts residents he would not press for a change in the state’s abortion laws.
However, Romney said he experienced an epiphany on pro-life issues when he was first confronted with the issue of embryonic stem cell research in 2005. He said he had a change of heart and now believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned so states can again prohibit abortions.
In the CBN interview, Brownback said he is the best pro-life candidate running for the GOP nomination because of his long track record on pro-life issues.
In addition to a 100 percent pro-life voting record in Congress, Brownback has been a leader in trying to get Congress to ban human cloning, to not fund embryonic stem cell research, and to approve pro-life bills related to abortions.
"If you look at our lineup right now, I’m the solidly pro-life candidate and I’ve worked on these issues, believe in them and have a base of support," Brownback said.
Romney recently told a radio talk show, "I was wrong on some issues back then."
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.
The discussion is crucial because the two leading candidates don’t agree entirely with the pro-life community.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani supports both abortion and embryonic stem cell research and Arizona Sen. John McCain backs forcing taxpayers to fund the controversial science.
Other potential Republican candidates include pro-life Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, pro-life Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, and pro-life California Rep. Duncan Hunter as well as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Health and Human Services Secretary and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who opposes abortion but supports embryonic stem cell research.