NRL News

Romney Explains His Change to Pro-Life in Thursday’s GOP Presidential Debate

by | Dec 17, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Life former Massachussets Gov. Mitt Romney

It was not the first time, nor will it be the last time former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is asked whether his conversion from pro-choice to pro-life was “principle or…just politics,” as Fox News’ Chris Wallace posed the question at last night’s GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa. Romney agreed he had changed his mind and here is his explanation (according to a transcript compiled by the Washington Post):

“With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I’m going to keep the laws as they exist in the state. And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice.

“Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn’t just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill.

“I went to the Boston Globe. I described for them why I am pro-life. Every decision I took as governor was taken on the side of life. I am firmly pro-life.

“I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 — 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself.”

To give some additional context, there is the story I wrote about “Romney’s Change of Heart on Abortion” two weeks ago, which included quotes from a story by columnist Kathleen Parker. ( ).

In writing recently about “Behind Romney’s change of heart on abortion,” Parker addressed the change which “evolved not from personal experience but rather from a purposeful course of study.” Parker explains that “Romney was under intense pressure to help flip a state law that protected embryos from stem-cell research. Some of that pressure came from Harvard University, Romney’s alma mater, where scientists hoped to assume a leading role in stem-cell research.” Before making a decision Romney educated himself by spending time with William Hurlbut, a physician and professor of biomedical ethics at Stanford University Medical School.

“For several hours, Hurlbut and Romney met in the governor’s office and went through the dynamics of conception, embryonic development and the repercussions of research that targets nascent human life,” Parker wrote. “It was not a light lunch.” The result “of that conversation and others was a pro-life Romney, who kept his campaign promise to honor the state’s democratically asserted preference for abortion choice but also began a personal path that happened to serve him well, at least theoretically, among social conservatives.”

In response to a question from Parker, Hurlbut said he believed Romney’s change is sincere. Quoting from the column

“Several things about our conversation still stand out strongly in my mind,” Hurlbut told me. “First, he clearly recognized the significance of the issue, not just as a current controversy but as a matter that would define the character of our culture way into the future.

“Second, it was obvious that he had put in a real effort to understand both the scientific prospects and the broader social implications. Finally, I was impressed by both his clarity of mind and sincerity of heart. … He recognized that this was not a matter of purely abstract theory or merely pragmatic governance, but a crucial moment in how we are to regard nascent human life and the broader meaning of medicine in the service of life.”

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Categories: Politics