by Steven Ertelt
February 9, 2007
Anderson, SC (LifeNews.com) — For Mitt Romney, it’s the issue that just won’t go away. The former Massachusetts governor defended his newfound pro-life position as he campaign in South Carolina on Friday but some skeptics continue to doubt whether he’s fully committed to the pro-life cause.
"I am firmly pro-life," Romney told about 100 Republicans at a restaurant campaign stop. "I was always for life."
"Every act I’ve taken as governor has been in favor of life," he added.
While Romney may have been personally pro-life for much of his political career, his policy position was in favor of legalized abortion. He campaigned for the U.S. Senate in 1994 and for governor in 2002 as a pro-abortion candidate.
But, during his tenure on Beacon Hill, he experienced an epiphany on abortion when confronted with the issue of embryonic stem cell research.
He converted to the pro-life perspective saying Roe should be overturned and that it "cheapened the value of human life."
Romney has won over the support of some pro-life activists, having earned the endorsement of leading pro-life attorney Jim Bopp, who has served as legal counsel for various pro-life groups.
But Kathryn Jean Lopez, the editor of National Review Online, finds Romney’s conversion story "not very compelling."
At the same time, Lopez contends, "It makes sense that, after rising to the position of a state’s chief executive, a businessman with a latent pro-life inclination might develop a heightened sense of the dangers posed to humanity when confronted with the possibility of state-funded embryo farming."
Lopez says the proof that Romney has made a genuine shift on pro-life issues is seen in his reaction to the bioethics debate in 2005 when he had the conversion.
She explains that Romney told scientists he would oppose using human cloning to create embryos to be destroyed in research but would support limited embryonic stem cell research only on embryos that would be destroyed anyway.
"Cynics then and now would say the governor made a stand against cloning purely as an act of pandering: He judged that pro-life primary voters held the key to the White House, and so he took their side," Lopez says. "But I never bought that explanation."
"If it were all about winning a future election, you’d think Romney would have gone all the way — and opposed the use of frozen embryos in fertility clinics in scientific research. Instead, it seemed to me, he actually believed what he was saying," Lopez concludes.
"What pro-lifers need is an assurance that he has come to a firm conclusion about the implications of unrestricted, life-destroying research, and that this conclusion would pervade a Romney administration. I buy it, but for many, he’s not yet made the case. Pro-lifers need to embrace converts for the life of their cause, but they also know to trust only after verification," Lopez added.
Whether the pro-life movement buys his change of heart depends on Romney himself, she writes.
"If he’s the real deal, he will have to make the case that he is — quickly, confidently, and consistently," she said.