While Romney's church opposed abortion except in extreme circumstances, one of its fundamental tenets is the doctrine of free agency: faithful Mormons had the obligation to make moral judgments for themselves. Many like Mitt personally opposed abortion but saw the moral wisdom and consistency in supporting laws that granted women the right to make that choice themselves.
Romney laid out for church leaders what his public position would be on abortion--personally opposed but willing to let others decide for themselves. Romney "didn't ask what his position should be, nor did he ask the brethren to endorse his position. He came to explain, and his explanation was consistent with church teachings and policies," said one senior church leader at the time.
In October 2002, campaigning for governorship of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he would “preserve and protect” a woman’s right to choose. He now describes himself as opposing abortion.
It’s true that both Huckabee and Romney oppose abortion--now. But Huckabee was pro-life while he was governor. Romney, not so much. Don’t take our word for it. Here’s Romney at a September debate in Iowa: “I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I’ve said that time and time again. I’ve changed my position.“
We don’t begrudge Romney the right to change his mind, and he’s been open about the fact that his position has changed. But many Iowa voters may still be unaware of that, and this ad implies that there’s no difference between these two candidates on abortion. That’s a stretch.
(BEGIN AUDIO)Q: Do you stand by that attack?
ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney is telling Iowans that he is firmly pro-life. Nothing could be further from the truth. As late as 2005, Mitt Romney pledged to support and uphold pro-abortion policies and pass taxpayer funding of abortions in Massachusetts. His wife, Ann, has contributed money to Planned Parenthood. Mitt told the National Abortion Rights Action League that, “You need someone like me in Washington.“
BROWNBACK: I certainly do. There’s one word that describes that ad, and it’s ”truthful.“ That’s a truthful ad. And that’s what campaigns are about: for getting the truth out, expressing the differences between candidates.
Q: Is everything in that ad true?
ROMNEY: Virtually nothing in that ad is true. I am pro-life. That’s the truth. Every action I’ve taken as governor of Massachusetts has been pro-life.
ROMNEY: Abortion is a very difficult decision. We’re involved in the lives of two people: a mom and an unborn child. I’ve come down on the side of saying I’m in favor of life. The best way you can learn about someone is not by asking their opponent, but ask them, “What do you believe, and what’s your view?” And I am pro-life. And virtually every part of that ad is inaccurate. I’m pro-life. My positions are pro-life.
BROWNBACK: You can go on YouTube and see the governor speaking himself about where he is on this position in 1994.
ROMNEY: Look, I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in 1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I changed my position. And I get tired of people that are holier-than-thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have. But I’m proud of the fact.
A: Probably from a political standpoint and a personal standpoint, the greatest mistake was when I first ran for office, being deeply opposed to abortion but saying, “I support the current law,” which was pro-choice and effectively a pro-choice position. That was just wrong. And when I became a governor and faced a life-and-death decision as a governor, I came down on the side of life. That was a mistake before that.
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