Santorum Hits Romney Decision to Not Sign Pro-Life Pledge

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jun 18, 2011   |   9:23AM    Washington, DC

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, pounded on a decision by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to not sign a pro-life pledge sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List.

Romney was one of the three declared candidates who did not sign the pledge — along with pro-life businessman Herman Cain and pro-abortion former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Signers of the pledge include pro-life Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, pro-life former Speaker Newt Gingrich, pro-life Rep. Ron Paul, pro-life former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Santorum.

“This past Monday night at the Republican Presidential Debate, I was asked about Governor Romney’s pro-life conversion, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Santorum said. “I apparently spoke too soon.”

“It is incredibly disappointing that Governor Romney chose not to defend those who cannot defend themselves,” he told LifeNews in a statement.

The Santorum campaign also pointed out that Cain and Johnson did not sign the pledge, saying, “Additional announced candidates who did not take the pledge include Herman Cain and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.”

The SBA List confirmed to LifeNews that the Romney and Cain campaigns were contacted about the candidates signing the pledge and the two candidates chose not to do so. LifeNews.com contacted both campaigns for explanations about why they did not join the other presidential candidates and the Cain camp has not yet issued a response — with his press official saying a response is expected today.

Responding for Romney, spokeswoman Andrea Saul told LifeNews late Friday, “Governor Romney pledged in the last campaign that he would be a pro-life president and of course he pledges it today.”

“However, this well intentioned effort has some potentially unforeseen consequences and he does not feel he could in good conscience sign it. Gov. Romney has been a strong supporter of the SBA List in the past and he looks forward to continue working with them to promote a culture of life,” she said.

Asked to explain the “unforseen consequences” that would prevent Romney from signing the pledge, Saul told LifeNews, “The pledge calls for legislation to strip taxpayer funding from hospitals around the country, and strictly limits the choices a President would have to appoint cabinet members.”

During the debate on Monday, CNN asked Santorum, “Senator Santorum, staying with you for a moment, if I may, you are staunchly pro-life. Governor Romney used to support abortion rights until he changed his position on this a few years ago. This has been thoroughly discussed. But do you believe he genuinely changed his mind, or was that a political calculation? Should this be an issue in this primary campaign?”

Santorum was clearly not ready to go after Romney, and he replied, “I think — I think an issue should be — in looking at any candidate is looking at the authenticity of that candidate and looking at their — at their record over time and what they fought for. And I think that’s — that a factor that — that should be determined.”

The former congressman then shifted to his own position on abortion, which has been consistently pro-life.

“You can look at my record. Not only have I been consistently pro-life, but I’ve taken the — you know, I’ve not just taken the pledge, I’ve taken the bullets to go out there and fight for this and lead on those issues. And I think that’s a factor that people should consider when you — when you look, well, what is this president going to do when he comes to office?” he said.

Santorum continued, “A lot of folks run for president as pro-life and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner. I will tell you that the issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of every human life, not just at birth, not just on the issue of abortion, but with respect to the entire life, which I mentioned welfare reform and — and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.”

Romney was given a brief time to respond to the question as well and he said he is now “firmly pro-life.”

“People have had a chance to look at my record and look what I’ve said as — as I’ve been through that last campaign. I believe people understand that I’m firmly pro-life,” he said. “I will support justices who believe in following the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. And I believe in the sanctity of life from the very beginning until the very end.”