Mitt Romney is Not Soft on Pro-Life, Abortion Issues

Opinion   |   Andrew Bair   |   Mar 23, 2012   |   4:11PM   |   Washington, DC

Some conservatives remain under the mistaken impression that Mitt Romney is soft on pro-life issues. Romney’s primary opponents have tried to perpetuate this myth in order to mislead pro-life voters. However, Romney has been unequivocal on his pro-life stance since his change of heart in 2004.

Sure, scrutiny of candidates is important during a primary. But the incessant questions about Romney’s pro-life convictions are bordering on obsessive compulsive at this point. Ronald Reagan never faced this level of skepticism after his conversion. Nor did former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson after she left her job to become a pro-life advocate. A trademark of the pro-life movement is its ability to change hearts and minds by sharing the truth about abortion and the humanity of the unborn child.

If Romney’s words or record as governor are not convincing enough, just look at what abortion advocates are saying. Abortion advocates are downright fearful of Mitt Romney winning the Republican nomination. They have devoted more time to bashing Romney than any of the other Republican candidates, even though they all share a pro-life stance on abortion.

Last week when Romney reiterated his support for cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, abortion advocates went ballistic. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards claims she was “stunned” by Romney’s comments. (Despite the fact that he has called for cutting Planned Parenthood’s federal funding repeatedly throughout the campaign, including in his pro-life pledge released last June. ) Then Richards went into a bizarre tirade where she tried to make the argument that Romney would not be able to balance the federal budget unless Planned Parenthood received its annual $385 million.

There is no question among abortion advocates where Romney stands.

NARAL Pro-Choice America correctly notes on its website that Romney made pro-abortion comments prior to his 2004 change of heart. But even NARAL knows Romney merely gave lip service to abortion advocates in Massachusetts. His record as governor was decidedly pro-life. NARAL’s website attacks Romney for vetoing a bill to expand the availability of Plan B. Ultimately, that veto was overridden by the pro-abortion Democrat-controlled legislature.

Romney also vetoed a bill to expand funding for embryo-destructive research. The veto took tremendous courage considering nationally Republicans like Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Dick Lugar and former Speaker Newt Gingrich were urging their party to drop their opposition to embryonic stem cell research. In a press release following Romney’s victory in the New Hampshire primary, NARAL said, “During his campaign for governor of Massachusetts, Romney pledged to uphold pro-choice laws.  However, once he assumed office, he took anti-choice actions.”

NARAL notes that Romney would be an “anti-choice President.” The group cites Romney’s belief that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided, his support for a constitutional amendment to protect life at the moment of conception, his opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion and Planned Parenthood, his commitment to repeal Obamacare and his support for conscience rights. Planned Parenthood reaches the same conclusion, adding on their website that Romney’s PAC donated money to pro-life organizations like the Palmetto Family Council, Massachusetts Citizens for Life, South Carolina Citizens for Life and the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Mitt Romney’s conversion to the pro-life position should be something celebrated, not something viewed with scorn or skepticism among pro-life advocates. The goal of the pro-life movement is to get all elected officials to support protective laws for unborn children. In the future, what politician would want to come to our side if we’re going to constantly question their authenticity? President Reagan never faced the same scrutiny.

As governor of California, he treaded a much different path than Governor Romney in Massachusetts. Reagan signed into law a piece of legislation that expanded abortion in California prior to Roe vs. Wade. Yet, when he ran for president he had changed his position and was welcomed into the fold by pro-life advocates. He later referred to signing the California abortion law the biggest mistake of his political career.

We have every reason to believe Romney would serve as a pro-life president. Key pro-life leaders, pro-life politicians and his closest advisors can vouch that Romney’s change of heart on abortion was genuine. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), a kingmaker in conservative circles, said in the National Review in 2007 that Romney “feels passionately that the value of human life begins at conception.”

In DeMint’s endorsement of Romney in the 2008 election, he noted: “Governor Romney is strongly pro-life. He will be a great asset to the cause of life because he has done something that we must convince many other Americans to do; he has changed his mind. After reviewing new scientific data, he is absolutely convinced that human life begins at conception. He will work to protect the lives of mothers and babies. He will also support promising adult stem cell research while maintaining the ban on federal funding of research that involves the killing of human embryos.”

Mary Ann Glendon, the former Ambassador the Vatican who made national headlines by turning down an award from Notre Dame after it was announced the university would grant an honorary degree to pro-abortion President Obama, is a chief advisor on pro-life issues for Romney’s 2012 campaign. Glendon said, “The pro-life movement has worked so hard for so many years in the effort to change people’s hearts and minds on the life issues. That like Ronald Reagan, like Henry Hyde, Mitt Romney should be welcomed as a great success story for the pro-life movement.”

Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the former president of the National Right to Life Committee, ran against Romney for the Republican nomination for Senate in 1994 when Romney did not hold a pro-life position. However, after his change of heart and proven pro-life record as governor, Jefferson endorsed him for president in 2008. In response to critics she said, “It is my mission to welcome whosoever will come. I’m not part of the faction that slams the door.” After decades of service to the pro-life movement, Dr. Jefferson passed away in 2010.

From Ronald Reagan to the late Bernard Nathanson, from Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe of the Roe vs. Wade case) to Abby Johnson, it’s clear that changes of heart are one of the pro-life movement’s greatest strengths. Converts to the pro-life position are some of the movement’s most eloquent and passionate spokespeople. Dr. Jefferson’s words should guide the way the pro-life movement treats all candidates for elected office. Candidates who commit themselves to protecting unborn children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion deserve our support. Converts are a signal that the pro-life movement is winning.

If Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee and defeats President Obama, it will be a victory for unborn children.