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Politics: February 2, 2007

Mitt Romney and the Pro-Life Vote

Rich Lowry suggests that former Massachusetts governor Gov. Mitt Romney's "account of how he came to change his view on abortion—through the issue of stem-cell research—isn't very compelling and he would probably be better off not talking about it at all. "

A pro-life reader disagrees:

I have to disagree with your assertion that Romney's account of he came to change his views of abortion "isn't very compelling" and that "people aren't going to believe it."

Pro-lifers greatly enjoy learning about that moment when it clicked for pro-life converts. Each pro-life convert has his or her own story about what it was that caused them to see the light. Governor Romney's account makes perfect sense. When he had to study the origins of life as he pondered an embryonic stem cell bill, he realized the truth: life begins at conception. It's a fully plausible account and it's also interesting that his study of embryonic stem cell research, a fairly new frontier on the decades old abortion debate, caused him to change his view.

I agree that pro-lifers enjoy hearing about that "moment when it clicked" and are generally quite accepting when an abortion advocate finally recognizes the sanctity of human life and begins to act upon their new found belief. Many within our ranks and authors at this blog can identify with Romney’s “epiphany”.

But is there reason to approach Romney’s conversion with skepticism? In 2002, Planned Parent and NARAL questionnaires show Romney as decidedly pro-abortion. [Jennifer Rubin - Weekly Standard]

At the Massachusetts GOP convention in April 2002 Romney said. "Accordingly, I respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose. Romney repeated his pro-abortion views later that year in the October 2002 gubernatorial debates.

The timing of Romney’s change of heart is certainly suspicious and I wonder, as do many others, if Romney used the pro-abortion vote to win the 2002 governorship and now wants pro-life support in his bid for the Republican nomination for the president.

Back in December, Ramesh Ponnuru offered a pragmatic solution to the question:

I think we ought to be unsentimental about this question. Those of us who favor Romney’s position on sanctity-of-life issues ought to care less about its sincerity than about its stability. We ought to care about whether he will abandon the position, that is, not whether he truly believes it. Pro-lifers would win very few votes in Congress if every representative voted his conscience, after all. Presumably a politician is more likely to stick with a position if he deeply believes it; but it is too facile to say that having flipped before, a politician will flop again.
I’m not sure how one would judge stability beyond a candidate’s track record and would argue that the actions of an insincere politician will be influenced by the winds of popular opinion as he or she perceives them in the polls.

And, I don't see any reason to cut Romney or his campaign any slack given his stated (politically oriented) exceptions.

The bottom line is that I need convincing and want a better reason to support Mitt Romney on life issues other than he is not John McCain.

Cross-posted: ProLifeBlogs

Posted by tim at February 2, 2007 7:59 AM

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