Who Cares What Romney Says (Now) About Abortion?

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Seven Cities Sod
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Seven Cities Sod, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

There seems to be confusion about whether a Romney administration would run, not walk, to sharply limit women's reproductive choices, due to former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman telling people at a Republican Jewish Coalition in Ohio that Romney has no intent of overturning Roe vs Wade. Advocacy was needed here since voters have consistently heard that Romney would do just that, because he's on video having said this and more. There's even talk of his wanting to outlaw certain forms of contraception.

To Mike Huckabee on his show a year ago, Romney declared he would "absolutely" like to see a personhood amendment in the Massachusetts Constitution, adding he would like states to settle laws about abortion. His wish for a personhood amendment assures that when some say Romney would outlaw some forms of contraception, this is technically correct. And the latter pronouncement requires the U.S. Supreme Court reverse Roe vs Wade.

Romney's view on contraception also wobbles toward conservative with him flopping around and ultimately supporting the Blunt Amendment, an item offered in a transportation bill in the Senate to allow employers to refuse to cover contraceptives (or anything, really) on their health care plans, on the capricious basis of "conscience." (Here visualize the all too common bullying boss cornering female staffers to say that his "conscience" has narrowed their options.) Pregnancy is so costly financially and biologically, as is reliable contraception, yet Romney and other male politicians deem it a matter of conscience for people not intimately involved? Really? Whose conscience matters anyway?

More directly, Romney proclaimed in a Missouri campaign event in March, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that" and swore that Obamacare would get the hatchet too. These aims would leave uninsured low income women with an even more tattered safety net for basic health care, not to mention the contraception that forestalls the need for abortions, and allow more unplanned pregnancies, which can be a financial disaster for many hard working low income people.

The funny thing is, even if Romney does have moments of believing his more moderate views such as wanting to preserve abortion rights in the cases of rape, incest, and life (not health) of the mother, we voters have to see that, in the turbulent shifting of his positions, one thing is clear: this man can be pressured into any position.

And a number of gale force winds will blow against him trying to keep those moderate convictions.

The main gale force wind against Romney's "promise" not to overturn Roe vs Wade, if he is president, is the high chance of his appointing new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Three justices who have supported abortion are in their 70s, as is the very conservative Scalia too; all of these could retire soon. If Romney prefers certain allowances for abortion, who cares? Once a more conservative court gets its hands on an abortion case, those exceptions are out of Romney's hands.

Another gale force wind against Romney's promises of moderation is his likely wish to run for reelection which will, like catnip dangled before a cat, tempt the tea party to run a competing candidate if Romney is not conservative enough. The social conservative flank might also go for that catnip, now that even personhood amendments get hotly discussed. Susan Eisenhower of the Eisenhower Institute has been citing reelection in her analysis of Romney's chances of actually delivering on moderate views; thus she endorsed Obama. Leaning toward moderation is just not in the structure of Romney's situation.

Lastly, if Romney wants to be moderate, he's between a rock of Ryan and the hard place of a likely Republican majority of the House. Representative Ryan has drafted numerous anti abortion measures with Todd Akin in a Congress that introduced 44 bills on abortion according to Politifact. This should frighten voters as they recall that even on a good day Romney responds to political pressure, and if he's dead he will have even less spine. Imagine the Oval Office left to Paul Ryan who has stated that "the method of conception doesn't change" his idea of human life. Rape, incest, who cares? Note that Ryan sees his religious view as holding the authority, not a pregnant woman's religious or non-religious views. So, if Ryan becomes president he would aim to codify his religious views into law to bind American women of all different sorts of beliefs into one standard when responding to life-altering predicaments such as unwanted, dangerous, and medically ill pregnancies.

While some conservatives, such as Ben Lowe with the Evangelical Environmental Network declare that Republicans are actually split on abortion, and no one should expect a reversal of Roe vs Wade, the fact is that the party, and Romney in particular, have been sowing the wind to the point where we all might reap the whirlwind of a sudden change in law.