Gingrich to Attack Romney on Abortion in Questionable Ads

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 6, 2012   |   8:26PM   |   Washington, DC

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is planning to go up with new ads in South Carolina that attack fellow GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on the issue of abortion, but the accuracy of the ads is questionable.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner has more on the ads.

The topic of abortion has emerged as a particularly contentious issue between the Gingrich and Romney campaigns.  Gingrich’s accusation is that Romney’s universal health care plan in Massachusetts explicitly provides for taxpayer funding of abortions.  Romney responds by arguing that a longstanding Massachusetts supreme court decision, which as governor he had no power to overturn, forced the state to provide abortion aid to poor women.  

The Romney campaign, by way former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who has endorsed Romney, says the ads would be false.

“I don’t think Mr. Gingrich has the guts to say it to Gov. Romney’s face,” he told York. “He is wrong.  It is dishonest for him to say that…Mr. Gingrich has a little difficulty with the truth.”

Asked to respond to Sununu’s words, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said Gingrich will almost certainly discuss abortion face-to-face with Romney. “It doesn’t take a lot of courage to tell the truth,” Hammond said.  “It is a well documented fact that Mitt Romney advocated for liberal judges when he was governor of Massachusetts.  He supported reforms that led to taxpayer funded abortions.”

Romney himself disclaimed any responsibility for funding abortions in Massachusetts and said he would have supported the state high court doing what more than 10 other states in the nation have done — forced their state governments to fund abortions at taxpayer expense.

He told Mike Huckabee on his television program in October that he would have gladly supported a provision eliminating the abortion funding in the program, but indicated the state Supreme Court had ruled that the state must fund abortions despite the objections of pro-life people. Romney said he would support an amendment to the state constitution to overturn that decision, but added that Democrats in the state legislature made that impossible to pursue.

“Our bill had no mention whatsoever of abortion,” Romney said. “This was something which existed even before our bill was passed. They said people who were receiving care that was in any way subsidized by government had the right to get abortion as part of that care. They said that was constitutionally required.”

David French a pro-life attorney with the ACLJ, also defends Romney on the abortion funding question. He recently wrote in a column LifeNews carried:

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, any abortion coverage contained in Massachusetts insurance plans is required by Massachusetts legal precedent that Mitt could not alter.  The Weekly Standard raised this issue in a recent piece by John McCormack:

Some social conservatives don’t buy Romney’s defense that it’s all the fault of the judges. “You know what I would think if I were a pro-lifer? That’s a pretty darn good reason not to have the government take over the health care system,” says Steve Deace, a Christian conservative Iowa radio host and longtime Romney antagonist. “Forget the mandate, which is wrong to begin with. The first moral principle is don’t murder.”

Why would Romney expand access to government-subsidized health care if those plans would cover elective abortions? David French of Evangelicals for Mitt says that argument is a “classic example of not understanding what an actual governor of an actual blue state has to face.”

French argues that by going to the Heritage Foundation for advice and using what leverage he had, Romney got the best deal he could in Massachusetts. “Doing nothing wasn’t a realistic alternative,” he says. “People need to get over the idea that he’s coming out of Texas. He’s coming out of Massachusetts.”

“Mitt Romney did not have the option of saying .  .  . that there won’t be government involvement in Massachusetts health care,” says French. “He was a conservative governor facing a veto-proof [Democratic] supermajority in both houses dead-set on a particular kind of health care reform.”