Romney Lunges to the Center on Abortion

If there’s any one issue that is emblematic of Mitt Romney’s core malleability, it’s abortion. Over the last 16 years, Romney has called himself “unequivocablly pro-choice,” pro-life (but unwilling to change the status quo), “delighted” to sign a national abortion ban, eager to extend the 14th Amendment to unborn children, and willing to turn abortion over to the states. Yesterday, Romney made another transformation: In an interview, he told the Des Moines Register, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

Anyone familiar with the Romney of eight months ago knows that this runs counter to his stated positions. In a February interview, he said that he would cut Planned Parenthood, block foreign aid from going to abortion services, and appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. The problem here, of course, is the same problem he’s had with all of his positions; they’re popular with Republican voters, but toxic with the broader public. Yesterday’s interview was clearly an attempt to square this circle, and present a moderate image—“I have no plans to do anything about abortion”—while leaving a fair amount of wiggle room.

Romney’s statement doesn’t rule out action on legislation that he’s not familiar with, and it doesn’t rule out executive action. What’s more, it doesn’t rule out legislation that might come to his desk as president. If Mitch McConnell and John Boehner were to send something like the “Protect Life Act”—currently co-sponsored by Paul Ryan and Todd Akin—to the Oval Office, odds are good that President Romney would sign it.

The same goes for the constellation of anti-abortion bills passed by House Republicans over the last two years; given the extent to which Romney doesn’t have capital to spare with conservatives, he’s unlikely to expend his political resources on a fight to—for example—maintain funding for contraceptive services.

As for the Supreme Court, social conservatives are eager to overturn Roe v. Wade and clear the path for a national abortion ban—there’s no way in a President Romney wouldn’t appoint an anti-Roe judge. Indeed, it’s unclear whether there’s anyone on the conservative shortlist for the Court who supports upholding Roe.

Shortly after Romney gave his interview to the Register, a campaign spokesperson told the National Review that the Republican nominee would “of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life,” a sure sign that his earlier statement was insincere (at best).

The upshot? There’s no sure way to know how Romney will approach abortion rights if elected president. If you’re skeptical that Romney will be as draconian as I’ve described, it’s worth keeping one thing in mind: Abortion isn’t a core issue for Romney. His indifference is what allows him to move from position to position, with little concern for consistency or principle. If forced to deal with the issue, he will defer to the people—abortion opponents—who do care.

Comments

October 15, 2012
Hello, my fellow American voters!
I watched the Oct. 3rd presidential and Oct. 11th vice-presidential debates.
Romney-Obama debate covered 7 topics: jobs; budget deficit/debt; social security/entitlements; federal regulation of economy; healthcare; federal government role in economy; partisan gridlock.
Ryan-Biden debate covered 10 topics: Libya; Iran; economy; medicare/social security/entitlements; taxes/tax reform/spending/budget cuts; military policy; Afghanistan; Syria; abortion; negative campaign tactics.
As an INDEPENDENT, I support the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Romney and Ryan won both debates.
Ryan won despite Biden’s consistently rude/disrespectful behavior during the debate.
Biden’s tactics to evade issues/truth were disrespectful to Americans interested in facts, figures, forecasts, and solutions for real people with real problems.
Biden interrupted Ryan often, laughed often while Ryan was talking, and pointed his finger often.
Romney and Ryan won with substance, integrity, respect, clarity, facts, commitment, inspiration, and leadership. But these debates are NOT about who wins but rather about who is the best person in terms of qualifications/character to lead our country to solve problems and make life better for all Americans.
I am inspired by Romney/Ryan, and I hope that you are too!
Best regards,
Cas Lee

October 19, 2012

Hello, my fellow American voters!

I would like to state the following about abortion since it seems to be a major issue in this presidential election (i.e., Obama is pro-choice, Romney is pro-life) and in our society generally.
From 1995 until 2011 the number of reported abortions in the USA was between 1.2 and 1.4 million yearly.
From 1978 until 1994 the number of reported abortions in the USA was between 1.4 and 1.6 million yearly.
From 1973 until 2011, the total number of reported abortions in the USA was 54,559,615.
See these and other abortion statistics at http://www.mccl.org/us-abortion-stats.html.

As an INDEPENDENT female feminist (egalitarian) voter, I support the Romney/Ryan ticket.
I have been pro-choice as regards abortion since my youth, i.e., for approx. 40 years.
At the same time, I am pro-life, i.e., I very much value human life and human dignity.

What concerns me is that with all of the relatively low-cost (and at times free) contraceptive options available today in the USA both for men and women to use, there are still at least 1.2 million abortions every year in our country.
This leads me to believe that we Americans are doing something drastically wrong at the family, school, and church levels in terms of teaching our children BOTH about abstinence AND contraception.
In essence, I am NOT for abstinence-only sex education (whether in the family, schools and/or churches) to the exclusion of much-needed sexual and reproductive health education, including birth control and safe sex.
I believe that this education needs to concentrate also on the spiritual, psychological, economic, educational, health, social, and alcohol/drug issues associated with our decisions about sex and reproduction.
Regarding the role of the church in this matter, as a Christian I personally see nothing wrong with teaching Biblical principles of ABSTINENCE to young people and others and, at the same time, teaching Biblical principles of RESPONSIBILITY for our bodies in terms of taking steps to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases if we decide to ignore the Biblical principles of ABSTINENCE.

I believe that as a society grows and learns, more is expected of the members of that society.
I still believe that freedom of CHOICE is important.
And, I also believe that freedom of RESPONSIBILITY is important.
In essence, both choice and responsibility give us freedom, and as all of us know freedom is indeed empowering.

Is it not possibly the right time as a nation for us to consider once again our options regarding the abortion issue and sexual and reproductive health education in our families, schools, and churches?
I would very much like to see a respectful dialogue between pro-choicers and pro-lifers in our country on these issues since in my estimation they go hand in hand.
To borrow a phrase from Alcoholics Anonymous, looking at these issues with “a new pair of glasses” could be quite instrumental in bringing us together to deal with them.

Finally, regardless of whether you agree with me on any of the above, I thank you for the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on these very important issues to women, men, families, and society.

Best regards,
Cas Lee

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