Democrats Attack Romney Over Pro-Life Comments

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 4, 2011   |   1:30PM   |   Washington, DC

The national Democratic Party is attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for apparently supporting a pro-life measure in Mississippi that would define human life as starting at conception or fertilization.

The DNC claims Romney, in an interview recently on the Mike Huckabee show on Fox News, said he supports the statewide ballot amendment in Mississippi that would amend the state constitution to say that the legal definition of a person is at the beginning of human life, i.e. conception. As the Washington Post indicates, the Democratic National Committee has released a letter attacking Romney and the amendment.

Patrick Gaspard, the executive director of the DNC calls the amendment a radical measure “that would elevate a fertilized human egg to the status of a legal person.”

“They would ban IUDs, the morning-after pill, in-vitro fertilization, and all abortions — with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or in cases where the life of a woman is at stake,” he falsely claims.

About Romney, he says:  “In other words, a leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president is on the record in favor of a law that would classify literally all abortions — and even many forms of birth control — as murder. To be clear: This is the most radical position any of the Republican candidates have taken on this issue, and may be the most radical position any of them have taken on any substantive issue in the race for the nomination so far.”

In the Huckabee interview, Romney said he “absolutely” would have signed a measure when he was Massachusetts’ governor saying human life begins at conception, but he was not referring to the personhood amendment at the time.

The exchange with Huckbee had to do with supporting an amendment to overturn a Massachusetts state Supreme Court decision forcing the state to pay for abortions with taxpayer funds.

Mike Huckabee: “Was there any way that you could have blocked [Romney’s health care plan paying for abortion] administratively or through forcing the legislature to have created enabling legislation before it went into effect?”

Romney: “This was something which existed exactly even before our bill was passed. They said people who are receiving care in that was in any way subsidized by government had the right to get abortion as part of that care. And they said that was constitutionally required. So the only way to we could have changed that would be to carry out a constitutional amendment to block the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Mike Huckabee: “Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?”

Mitt Romney: “Absolutely.”

Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told Politico Romney supports

“a Human Life Amendment that overturns Roe vs. Wade and sends the issue back to the states” — which sounds like something short of a federal abortion ban.

“Mitt Romney is pro-life, and as he has said previously, he is supportive of efforts to ensure recognition that life begins at conception. He believes these matters should be left up to states to decide,” she said.

Still, the DNC uses Romney’s quote in a new video attacking Romney by saying, “The personhood amendment is the most extreme attack on a woman’s right to choose in a generation, and Mitt Romney is fully behind it.”

The Susan B. Anthony List responded to the comments saying it appreciates Romney standing up for the scientific notion that human life begins at conception. The president of the pro-life women’s political group, Marjorie Dannenfelser, told LifeNews: “Governor Romney’s position that life begins at conception is an intellectually and scientifically sound position to hold and respects the dignity of both women and unborn children.”

Dannenfelser added:  “It shows the seriousness of his approach to the Life issue and his willingness to protect innocent lives.  We applaud Governor Romney for his recent statement. The tired practice of calling the pro-life position “anti-woman” is quickly being turned on its head and is simply failing to resonate with voters.”

Mississippi voters will be able to vote on the personhood amendment in the state when it goes to the polls in its statewide elections in November, but abortions will not necessarily be banned even if it’s approved. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood that paves the way for Mississippi to become the second state, following failed votes in 2008 and 2010 in Colorado, to consider the personhood amendment.