In 2007, Mitt Romney stated that in regard to a “human life” amendment to the constitution, “I do support the Republican Platform and I support that being part of the Republican Platform.”
At no point during this conversation or any other in which he declared support for a human life amendment did he suggest support for exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.
Over the past week, and in the wake of statements by Missouri representative Todd Akin which threw into stark relief the positions in the GOP Platform on women’s rights, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney has changed his position on a total abortion ban by insisting he would allow “exceptions” for victims of rape and incest.
Rather than asking probing questions about an issue that is of profound consequence for women’s lives and health, the media–ranging from George Stephanopoulos of This Week to Bob Schieffer of Face the Nation and others–have largely taken Romney at his word on this shift and failed to ask any questions. At the very least, the media ought to be asking Romney how his post-Akin position squares with his own statements of the past several years.
In recent months, for example, Governor Romney has insisted he is the “same man” as we was in the last presidential election; that Mitt Romney had quite a different position than the post-Akin Romney.
But what position does he really have? If he is, as he has claimed, “the same man” as he was in the last election cycle, then he supports a total abortion ban. And if he supports “exceptions,” why has he never stated this when asked about total abortion bans?
In 2011 and 2012, Romney has several times said he “had the same positions today” as “when I ran for president last time, so what you see is what you get.”
In a March, 2012 interview on the Tommy Tucker Show out of New Orleans, for example, Romney stated that he had the same positions as “last time.” In the same interview, he also confused the issue by declaring that he had the same positions in the last presidential contest as he did as governor of Massachusetts, when he claimed to be pro-choice. Which Romney are we listening to now?
“In terms of my positions, my conservative positions were seen in my work as governor. I wrote a book that describes my view for the country. I’ve run for president before. Had the same positions today that I had when I was governor, when I wrote the book and when I ran for president last time, so what you see is what you get.”
In a November 2011 interview on the Sean Hannity Show, Romney said: “I have the same positions today I had four years ago where you know I’m a conservative guy.” At the time, Romney contrasted himself with John McCain, who in fact did try and failed to change the GOP platform in 2008 to provide exceptions for rape and incest. Instead, Romney likened himself to Governor Mike Hucakbee, a radically anti-choice politician who believes there should be no exceptions for abortion care.
“You know, I think people got a good chance to know me four years ago. As you may recall the people to my left in the party were probably John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Mike Huckabee and I were the two conservatives that really ran as conservatives in the race. I have the same positions today I had four years ago where you know I’m a conservative guy.”
Romney has repeatedly pointed to times during which he stated adamantly that he would be willing to sign a complete ban on abortions. In 2007, for example, at the November 2007 Republican primary debate anchored by Anderson Cooper, Governor Romney said he would be “delighted” to sign a total abortion ban.
QUESTIONER: “Hello, my name is AJ. I’m from Millstone, New Jersey. I would all of the candidates to give an answer on this. If hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Yes or no?”
ANDERSON COOPER: “Governor Romney?”
MITT ROMNEY: “I agree with Senator Thompson, which is we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states. I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I’d be delighted.”
COOPER: “The question is: Would you sign that bill?” ROMNEY: “Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are. That’s not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.”
Mitt Romney has also repeatedly endorsed the Republican party platform, which includes a so-called Human Life Amendment, which if passed would be an absolute ban on abortion nationwide, with no exceptions, and would, among other things, also outlaw many forms of contraception, outlaw in-vitro fertilization, criminalize miscarriage, and result in denial to pregnant women of treatment for, say, cancer, which could harm an embryo or fetus.
For example, Governor Romney endorsed both the 2004 and 2008 Republican Party Platforms, which included total abortion bans. In a March 2012 interview with Human Events, Romney suggested he “could hardly be opposed” to the National Republican Party Platform.
“We reminded Romney that from 1980 until 2000, the national GOP platform contained clear-cut planks calling for abolishing such government agencies as the National Endowment for the Arts and several Cabinet-level departments (notably the Department of Education), but that references in the platform to shutting down parts of government were eliminated in 2000 at the insistence of advisers to presidential nominee George W. Bush. Would Romney be open to his party’s platform once again calling for abolishing government agencies and departments? ‘We’re getting down to semantics here,’ he replied, ‘but my position, as I said, is for smaller government and if the platform reflects that, then as the nominee, I could hardly be opposed to it.'”
At no point in this interview did he suggest any daylight between him and the GOP platform on any issue.
The 2008 Republican Party Platform stated:
“We Support A Human Life Amendment To The Constitution, And We Endorse Legislation To Make Clear That The Fourteenth Amendment Is Protections Apply To Unborn Children.”
“Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.” [2008 Republican Platform, pg. 52]
The 2004 Republican Party Platform stated:
“We Support A Human Life Amendment To The Constitution And We Endorse Legislation To Make It Clear That The Fourteenth Amendment’s Protections Apply To Unborn Children.”
“As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.” [2004 Republican Platform, pg. 84]
In 2007, Romney stated that in regard to a “human life” amendment to the constitution, “I do support the Republican Platform and I support that being part of the Republican Platform.”
Appearing on Good Morning America, in 2007, Romney was asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if he supported the Republican Party’s 2004 platform on abortion rights. Romney replied, “You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform and I’m pro-life.”
At no point did Romney suggest he favored exceptions, neither to push back against those who opposed any exceptions, nor to support those who favored them.
Moreover, it begs the question of who would control the ultimate outcome of a “human life” or “personhood” amendment. In 2008, when John McCain proposed modifying the platform to include exceptions for rape and incest, Family Research Council President, Tony Perkins told ABC News:
“If he were to change the party platform,” that “would be political suicide” because “that is such a critical issue to so many Republican voters.” Romney did not then and had not encouraged a similar change during the primaries.
Is Romney implying then that he would go against the radical anti-choice movement that helped place him in office if and when such a bill came to his desk? It falls to professional media interviewers not just to assume Mitt Romney supports exceptions, because he has not previously espoused any such thing, but rather to ask him about when he changed his position, why he has not spoken out before now on exceptions, and what he would do if Congress passed a “human life amendment” with no exceptions. Is he implying he would veto this at the risk of alientating the same radical groups he’d need for a second term?