I have a soft spot for pro-life converts, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is. I think pro-lifers could do a better job of supporting them. I think it is time for that to happen for some of us who have been reluctant about Romney. The fact that he used to be pro-abortion is the major hang-up.
I’ve told the story before of meeting then-gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie at the New Jersey’s Rally for Life in 2009, where he was maligned by his primary opponent as a fake, a political opportunist. There were even a few boos when he was introduced. Feeling sorry for Christie, who looked a little out of place, I approached his table during dinner, introduced myself, and sat down to offer encouragement for his conversion. He lightened up and talked a mile a minute, describing how he had changed his view on the life issue when becoming a father in the 1990s.
To start out pro-abortion and end up pro-life cannot be an easy process, particularly when one is in the public eye.
But Romney has made that change. Toward that end, as the Susan B. Anthony List pointed out in its endorsement today:
Romney has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, restore the Mexico City Policy, support legislation to ban abortions based on fetal pain, and appoint only constitutionalist judges to the federal bench. Governor Romney has also committed to selecting a pro-life vice president.
Pro-lifers will always want more, but this is a great start. There are also many intangibles a pro-life president brings to the table. Just imagine a president whose Justice Department allows states to defund Planned Parenthood without suing, for instance?
But as to the most consequential duty of our next president, choosing 2-3 Supreme Court justices, Romney has already started down the path he promised. In August 2011 Romney formed a Judicial Advisory Committee, with two of the best pro-life minds agreeing to serve as chairpersons: Judge Robert Bork and Professor Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.
As for lingering pro-life complaints against Romney, Glendon was part of a group of pro-life leaders from Massachusetts, which also included Kris Mineau, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Family Institute, and Ray Ruddy, President of the Gerard Health Foundation (which biannually awards Life Prizes), who corrected the record in a statement in January, posted on LifeNews.com:
Governor Romney vetoed bills to provide access to the so-called “morning-after pill,” which is an abortifacient, as well as a bill providing for expansive, embryo-destroying stem cell research. He vetoed the latter bill in 2005 because he could not “in good conscience allow this bill to become law.”
We do not agree with the claims that Gov. Romney is responsible for tax payer funded abortion under the Massachusetts health care system. That blame lies solely on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who ruled in 1981 that the Massachusetts Constitution required payment for abortions for Medicaid-eligible women. In 1997, the Court reaffirmed its position that a state-subsidized plan must offer “medically necessary abortions.”
In 2006, under Governor Romney’s leadership, Massachusetts’ public schools began to offer a classroom program on abstinence from the faith-based Boston group Healthy Futures to middle school students. Promoting the program, Governor Romney stated, “I’ve never had anyone complain to me that their kids are not learning enough about sex in school. However, a number of people have asked me why it is that we do not speak more about abstinence as a safe and preventative health practice.”
We are aware of the 1994 comments of Senate candidate Romney, which have been the subject of much recent discussion. While they are, taken by themselves, obviously worrisome to social conservatives including ourselves, they do not dovetail with the actions of Governor Romney from 2003 until now – and those actions have positively and demonstrably impacted the social climate of Massachusetts.
Since well before 2003, we have been laboring in the trenches of Massachusetts, fighting for the family values you and we share. It is difficult work indeed – not for the faint of heart. In this challenging environment, Governor Romney has proven that he shares our values, as well as our determination to protect them.
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Eric Scheidler, who wrote in an email (as a private citizen and not as Executive Director of Pro-Life Action League):
Now that Santorum is out, it’s this man’s opinion we all need to cowboy up and help Romney beat Obama.
And that starts, now, with avoiding all disparaging remarks about “holding one’s nose” and the like, which I’ve been seeing on Facebook these last few hours. From now on, I’m nothing but thrilled I’ve got a good man to rally behind, and I’ll leave it to Team Obama to make Romney look like anything less.
It also means working to convince our friends that sitting out this election is the wrong call. Yes, I’d rather have 8 years of Romney than 4 more years of Obama followed by the impossible task of undoing 4 more years of Obama.
Finally, defeating Obama with Romney shows the both of them, and the whole country with them, who owns the grassroots.