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Speech to NRL - Jun 29, 2012 - 4 min

Governor Romney is pro-life, and like Ronald Reagan, once supported abortion rights.¹

However, unlike Ronald Reagan, who signed an abortion law while governor that caused abortions in his state to sky-rocket ², Mitt Romney has a consistent pro-life record as governor.

As Ronald Reagan's son, well known conservative pundit Michael Reagan, has said, "Romney's record shows he should be totally acceptable to all conservatives".³

Following is Governor Romney's record on abortion related issues, and a history of his views.



Platform (1 minute)

Additional views and objectives related to the abortion issue: youtube - Oct 8, 2011


"Following is Governor Mitt Romney's message informing the Legislature that he vetoed the emergency contraception bill.

"To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:

"... To those who believe that life begins at conception, the morning-after pill can destroy the human life that was created at the moment of fertilization.

"Furthermore, this legislation would make the morning-after pill available to young girls without any restrictions on age... this bill undermines the state's parental consent laws and represents a departure from the public consensus that minor children should not act without parental involvement in these matters."

"Romney announced that he would oppose any legislation that would allow for the creation of new human embryos for scientific experiments...

"emotional framing of the [embryonic-stem-cell-research] debate is disingenuous for a few reasons, the first being that the governor has presented a compromise position: In a non-ideal (from the pro-life vantage point) but pragmatic compromise move, Romney has decided to support experimentation on surplus frozen embryos from in-vitro fertilization procedures. But proponents of embryonic-stem-cell research refuse to meet him there. They want it all.

"As Romney put it in a press conference on Thursday, ''All of the rhetoric has been, 'We are throwing away embryos - surplus embryos - that could be used for stem-cell research and that makes no sense.'... And now, now that I've said, 'Ok, I support that,' now [the other side says], 'No, that's insufficient. How could you possibly limit it to that?' Well, that's what they've been asking for.''

"In other words, Romney has called their bluff...

"Romney has started out of the gates playing it straight. ''I am in favor of stem-cell research. I am not in favor of creating new human embryos through cloning,'' he told the press on Thursday. Whether honesty will be enough to get him a coalition that will support a ban on cloning or sustain a veto of the Harvard wish list remains to be seen. The implications of failure, however, are crystal clear."

Play  Glenn and Helen Show - Jan 10, 2007

Romney reviews abortion record
the week he left office  (1 minute)

Gives judicial criteria, states record

What he will fight for (is in favor of)

"The state Department of Public Health has determined that Catholic and other privately-run hospitals in Massachusetts can opt out of giving the morning-after pill to rape victims because of religious or moral objections, despite a new law that requires all hospitals who treat such victims to provide them with emergency contraception...

"The new law, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature this summer over the objections of Governor Mitt Romney, takes effect next week...

" ''We're very disappointed that the Romney administration is not honoring the intent of the Legislature, who voted overwhelmingly to protect the health of rape victims," said Melissa Kogut, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts...

"The Department of Public Health decision is welcome news for Catholic hospitals who do not provide emergency contraception and feared that the new law would make them do so. (In 2004, NARAL surveyed the 71 hospitals in Massachusetts with emergency rooms and found that one in six did not offer emergency contraception to rape victims. Among the nine Catholic hospitals included in the survey, NARAL found that six did not offer it.)

"Judy Mackey, a spokeswoman for Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, which does not offer the morning-after pill, said it would have been difficult for the hospital to navigate between state law and Catholic tenets."


“Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday that he will reject the Legislature's bill supporting stem cell research, urging lawmakers to rewrite the measure to prohibit scientists from cloning and to remove a passage that redefines when life begins.

“Romney had said previously that he planned to veto the bill, but for now he has decided to return the measure to the Legislature with four amendments...

“The move is the latest twist in a battle between Romney and the Legislature over the future of stem cell research in the state. The governor has echoed the hopes of many that stem cell research may one day find treatments for diseases, and he shares the conviction that the research is important to the state, with its heavy concentration of scientists and the biotechnology industry. But the governor has split with a large majority in the Legislature over cloning human cells, something Harvard scientists are planning to do.

“Although the Legislature passed the measure by a veto-proof margin, the amendments keep the issue alive and shine a light on what the governor believes are other flaws in the bill, particularly its assertion that life does not begin until an embryo is implanted in a uterus...

“In a letter outlining his position, to be delivered to lawmakers today, the governor said the bill would change a 1974 law defining an unborn child as ''the individual human life in existence and developing from fertilization until birth."

“In the letter, the governor calls this ''a matter of profound moral and ethical consequence," adding that it ''implicates a much broader array of issues than the relatively discrete question of whether stem cell research should be permitted." ”

“Mitt Romney can probably hear his echo when he gathers those who are standing with him on this fight, but that's not stopping him from trying. Instead of an outright veto, on Thursday morning Romney sent back to the statehouse his edits on a bill that would legalize embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning in Massaschusetts. That the bill greenlights experimentation on human embryos — and allows for their creation for this purpose — is devastating enough. But where the legislation gets even worse is in the finer print, where the legislature seeks to change the state's definition of human life.

“Since 1974, an "unborn child" in Massachusetts has been "the individual human life in existence and developing from fertilization until birth." Barring a Romney victory on this point, the legislature is poised to change the law to define human life as beginning at the "implantation of the embryo in the uterus." In a letter sent to the legislature this morning, Romney calls this statutory change "completely unnecessary." ...

“For legislators who reluctantly signed onto the "therapeutic" cloning go-ahead, influenced by the emotional testimony on its behalf calling the legislation a panacea ("It's about saving lives and helping children."), that's an uncomfortable position — changing the definition of life, on top of everything else. So Romney, sending the bill back now, is giving them another chance to do a little clean-up.

“Romney's protests against the bill — in the form of four proposed amendments — otherwise represent his consistent opposition to the cloning efforts in Massachusetts. For instance, in a guaranteed no-go amendment, Romney proposes to ban cloning, striking too much at the heart of the bill to have any mileage, unfortunately. But you can't blame the man for trying. His two other amendments would hold back prospects for “human embryo farming” by prohibiting embryos from being fertilized for research purposes, and limit the compensation women would get from "donating" eggs for research in an attempt to avoid exploitation (women’s selling their eggs as a viable income source)...

“To anyone whose been watching the debate, however, Romney has proven to be one of the more clear-thinking and honest pols on this heated topic: Even if his position hasn't been ideal, he has made a valiant effort and shed some light on the opposition's endgame.

“Especially for those concerned with the advancement of a cause — protecting the dignity of human life — Romney's actions deserve to be looked at outside of the 2008 periscope occasionally. Romney has engaged himself in taking on human cloning. And though the battle's all but lost in the Bay State at this point, legislatively, pro-lifers who also happen to be cynics or are otherwise ticked off at Romney (for legitimate reasons in some cases, such as his position on frozen embryos or his past remarks on abortion), should consider that he is currently fighting an uphill battle while basically carrying their banner. And he is doing so articulately, with a national audience paying attention (which on stem-cells and cloning, are no small things).”

"Besides Romney’s veto of the “emergency contraception bill”, Sturgis said he fought well against embryonic stem-cell research/human cloning, and had tried to veto the legislature’s bill, offering amendments that among other things would have protected the definition of life as beginning at conception."

“I certainly could not have written the amendments better than that myself.” (Marie Sturgis, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life)

“BOSTON, May 11 - Hoping to make a recently passed bill on stem cell research more restrictive, Gov. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he would ask the legislature to amend the bill by changing the definition of when life begins and by excluding a type of embryonic stem cell research that he opposes.

“The governor said in an interview that rather than veto the bill immediately, he would ask the legislature on Thursday to adopt four amendments. The legislature approved the bill overwhelmingly, by votes of 119 to 38 in the House and 34 to 2 in the Senate, enough to override a veto.

“One of Mr. Romney's amendments, seeking to ban the creation of embryos specifically for research, is an argument that he has been making for months...

“The other three are new proposals. One would undo the legislature's definition of when life begins...

“"To change the definition of when life begins is a very significant moral and ethical change," Mr. Romney said...

“Another proposal involves tightening what the governor says is a loophole in the bill's language.”

"Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed a bill Friday that would expand embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts, but the measure has more than enough support in the Legislature to override the governor's veto.

"Romney supports research using adult stem cells or leftover frozen embryos from fertility clinics. But he opposes the legislation because it would also allow therapeutic cloning, in which scientists create a cloned embryo to harvest stem cells in hopes of using them to treat and cure disease.

"Critics have said the practice amounts to creating human life only to destroy it.

" ''It is wrong to allow science to take an assembly line approach to the production of human embryos, the creation of which will be rooted in experimentation and destruction,'' Romney said in a letter to lawmakers explaining the veto.

"The Republican governor had appealed to the Democrat-controlled Legislature to amend its original bill and ban the cloning measure. He also urged lawmakers to include language defining the beginning of life as the moment of conception, banning the production of human embryos for other research purposes, and limiting compensation to women who donate their eggs...

"Stem cell research has become an issue nationally as well, as a bill lifting limits on stem cell research makes its way through Congress.

"The House approved the bill, which does not allow therapeutic cloning, by a 238-194 vote on Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to take it up. President Bush has promised a veto.

" ''What our Legislature has done goes well beyond what was done in Washington,'' Romney said."

"A number of conservatives also have cheered him on in his war with the state legislature over embryonic-stem-cell research, even though there are differences between his position and the one held by most pro-lifers. The issue first came up last fall, when Democrats offered a bill to permit the cloning of human embryos for scientific research. At a meeting in the governor's office, Harvard professor Douglas Melton described the science. ''I felt uncomfortable,'' says Romney. ''I thought of Brave New World or The Matrix, with hundreds of thousands of little lives being made and then being crushed.'' So Romney announced that he would not support a law that allowed the creation of human life for the purpose of destroying it. He used funds from his campaign account to make his case in radio ads. He did this even though his wife suffers from multiple sclerosis and arguably would benefit from the most aggressive stem-cell research conceivable."

"Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, said Thursday his administration's new restrictions on stem cell research are aimed at heading off an ''Orwellian'' future.

"The state's Department of Public Health this week issued regulations banning the creation of embryos for research purposes."

"The next governor will also face pressure to address a Romney administration program that funnels about $800,000 annually into abstinence-only sex education lessons in public schools."

Governor Romney is also an advocate of parental control over what their children are taught in school sex education and has emphasized that in the press:

"Governor Mitt Romney, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said: ''Schools under our parental-notification law are required to inform parents . . . of matters relating to human sexuality that may be taught in the classroom and to allow that child to be out of the classroom for that period of the education.'' "

Note: Governor Romney passed a medical plan that reduces the number of people who receive state funded abortions. His views, including his view of always being against funding of abortions, are listed in the next section (History of views section). Contrary to blogs and campaign claims, he did not fund abortions. His record regarding funding is noted below.

Abortion Funding:

With the endless ability to invent and spread rumors, or inaccurately skewed or false stories, there is no way to effectively address every misleading or inaccurate claim.

Hopefully most are addressed through the presentation of well documented, accurate information with links to an abundance of original sources, and backed by the assertions of prominent, trustworthy individuals, as done here.

However, one inaccurate and misleading claim not addressed above that deserves to be addressed, since many individuals have tried to promote it and it got widespread attention when presidential candidates picked up on it and repeated it, is the following:

“The Annenberg Foundation's nonpartisan FactCheck.org just delivered a powerful rebuke to the basic honesty of a McCain mailer used in South Carolina (and defended by Sen. McCain after reporters called it to his attention).

“In particular, FactCheck.org called McCain's assertion that Mitt Romney "provided" taxpayer-funded abortions "simply false."

“ "Romney never pushed for taxpayer funding for abortions. The state law he signed provided greatly expanded state-subsidized health insurance for low-income residents," Factcheck.org explained. An independent body -- the Commonwealth Connector -- not Romney, decided that abortions would be covered (a move required by two Massachusetts state supreme court rulings).”

"Maggie Gallagher is President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a co-author of The Case for Marriage." - marriagedebate.com]

So what is the truth of what Gov. Romney did with respect to taxpayer funding of abortions? Romney speaks for himself in response to brazen attacks on the subject by another presidential candidate:

“The Massachusetts Citizens for Life just several months ago brought me in and gave me an award for my public leadership on the basis of being pro-life. So the best way you can learn about someone is not by asking their opponent, but ask them, “What do you believe, and what’s your view?” And I am pro-life. And virtually every part of that ad is inaccurate.

“I’m pro-life. My positions are pro-life. The idea that, for instance, I’ve been in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion; that’s wrong. I oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. In our state we passed a medical plan that reduces the number of people who received state funding for abortion. So the ad is just completely wrong.”

Newt Gingrich ran an ad that said Mitt Romney “gave Planned Parenthood power over Massachusetts health care.” But:

“Regarding Planned Parenthood’s presence on a state panel, yes they apparently have a reserved slot (along with 13 other representatives) on something called the MassHealth Payment Policy Advisory Board (not on the “planning board for the health care plan” as some have claimed). This Board has no authority over abortion policy and in fact has no real power except to compile reports and make recommendations).”

“Ms. Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said this issue was “minor” and didn’t have anything to do with abortion.

“ “The committee doesn’t decide anything that has anything to do with abortion. It is just a rate-setting thing,” Ms. Fox told us. “It was not something that right to lifers were concerned about at the time. It was a minor thing. It really is Gingrich trying to make something significant [out of nothing]. This isn’t something that we would choose to even bring up.” ...

“The 14-member board is only charged with reviewing Medicaid rates and making recommendations for rates...

“Romney didn’t veto this provision of the law, as he did several other sections. That point was made during the 2008 presidential campaign by GOP candidate Fred Thompson. But, according to Anne Fox, the candidates are making much ado about nothing.

“As for the claim that “Romney signed government mandated health care with taxpayer-funded abortions,” that, too, is overblown. The state health care law didn’t say anything about abortion. Instead, the state exchange later decided that subsidized insurance plans would include coverage for abortion. And the exchange may have had little choice but to do so. In 1981, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that women eligible for Medicaid had a state constitutional right to payments for medically necessary abortions. In 1997, the state high court again ruled that Massachusetts must cover medically necessary abortions if it covers other medically necessary care, such as childbirth...

“But it’s not true that he signed a law that included “taxpayer-funded abortions.”

“The Gingrich Web video says that Romney “used taxpayers funds to pay for abortions.” Again, the law didn’t say anything about abortion. Were taxpayer funds ever actually used to cover abortions for those who gained subsidized coverage under the law? We asked the Gingrich campaign if it had any proof for that claim. So far, we have not received a response. But overall, the law didn’t lead to any increase in abortions in the state. In fact, both the number and rate of abortions have declined since the legislation was passed.

“The Guttmacher Institute, whose research on abortion has been cited by both political parties, has compiled statistics that show the number of abortions in the state went from 27,270 in 2005, the year before the law was passed, to 24,900 in 2008, the most recent statistic available. And the rate of abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age fell from 19.9 in 2005 to 18.3 in 2008. That’s an 8 percent drop, compared with a small rise of 1 percent nationally.”


Mitt Romney was born in 1947 [1], meaning he was a teenager in the 1960's, before abortion was legal nationally. In the 1960's his brother-in-law's teenage sister died due to an illegal abortion. As a result, his mother took the position that safe, legal abortions should be permitted, in behalf of those who were determined to have one, and he initially accepted that view, even though both he and his family personally did not believe in abortions. [2]

Because personally he was opposed to abortions, he didn't feel comfortable being labeled pro-choice [3], which often is viewed as someone who believes in abortion, which he never has. But he was comfortable in explaining his view, that he personally opposed abortion, but that people should be able to make their own choice, and therefore he would honor the will of the voters to keep it legal, in his 1994 and 2002 campaigns. However, he was always open about his being personally opposed to abortion, even in his 1994 campaign. [4]

While he was personally opposed to abortion, and had even encouraged and counseled women not to have abortions during his voluntary service as a lay-clergy leader [5], when he ran for office, the focus of his objectives was to solve economic problems. However, because he was personally against abortion and favored several restrictions on abortion (see references 10-12), the Boston press and his pro-choice opponents instead wanted to hammer him on "abortion, abortion, abortion". [6]

He had vexed the local press with his more conservative views, and as one magazine explained, in that liberal state where democrats are estimated to outnumber republicans by nearly four to one,

“There's a complicated dance Republicans [usually] must do to be competitive in Massachusetts... they must never vex the editorialists at the Boston Globe by violating the most sacred liberal taboos, especially the [Globe's] prohibition against nonliberal stands on abortion”. [7]

Past views and why (0:34)

On his experience changing him to firmly prolife (4:26)

It was in that environment, where he answered attacks and questions in the 1994 and 2002 races, particularly in his answer to a 1994 debate question [8], in which he is often quoted by smear artists. Their representation that he believed in abortion, or has no belief, but just flips and flops, is a mischaracterization that many leading conservatives and evangelicals have refuted. [9] Efforts to mischaracterize him include leaving out relevant parts to quotes, not providing links to full quotes, and excluding pertinent information such as what follows:

In the 1994 senate race, he came out and said he was against funding for abortion, "except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's health." And he received "the Massachusetts Citizens for Life endorsement because he supported parental-consent laws, opposed taxpayer-funded abortion or mandatory abortion coverage under a national health insurance plan and was against the Freedom of Choice Act that would have codified Roe". [10]

In his 2002 race, when the legality of partial-birth abortions were being considered, Mitt Romney came out in opposition to those being legal. [11] He also differed from his democrat challenger for governor who "proposed changing state law to let 16-year-old girls end their pregnancies without parental consent" by stating he would veto such a bill. In fact, "none of the major pro-abortion groups would have anything to do with him." [12]

What he did say, in a democratic state where most voters wanted the ability to have abortion preserved, was that he would not try to change their abortion laws, which promise he kept. [13]  In fact, his official campaign platform of what he pledged to do with regards to abortion stated "As governor, Mitt Romney would protect the current pro-choice status quo in Massachusetts. No law would change." [14] Several times he stated that in terms that he will respect, protect or preserve a woman's right to choose, and he expressed the pro-choice viewpoint that people should be able to make their own choice, even in his platform. But he "promised that if elected, I'd call a truce — a moratorium, if you will,... I vowed to veto any legislation that sought to change the existing rules." [15]

A pro-life advocate who had spent the last few years directing two programs for a nonprofit pro-life organization stated:

“Romney's pledge not to change abortion law was absolutely brilliant. The political realities of Massachusetts make pro-life policy victories virtually impossible in the heavily Democratic legislature. By refusing to change abortion laws, Romney launched a strategic effort to keep the commonwealth from further liberalizing abortion policy, including the age of parental consent proposal.” [16]

The California Republican Party Chairman described Romney's approach this way: he has the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. [17] Because of that approach and his personal views against abortion, in 2005, a former campaign staffer said he thought Romney was faking a pro-choice stance but was pro-life. [18] Romney disagreed. [19] Although when he ran as governor in 2002 he again indicated he did not want to be known as pro-choice [20] (as one who described himself as personally pro-life) [20b], he later acknowledged that his position as a candidate was effectively pro-choice, and that he was wrong in taking that position. [21]

Although when campaigning to the pro-choice electorate he reiterated his commitment to not to take away their abortion-rights, his position was moderately pro-choice, and he was viewed as a social moderate. [22] And he did want to hold the line on social limits as his platform indicated and his subsequent actions as governor demonstrated. After all, prior to being elected governor, he publicly stated that although abortion is a choice, it is the wrong choice. [23]

As Governor, when new pro-abortion laws came along, which would result in or encourage more abortions, he opposed them. [24]  He backed up his pledge to veto any effort to expand access to RU-486, the abortion pill, with the even stronger action of vetoing a bill expanding the use of a morning-after pill. [25]

He also created and funded a program to encourage abstinence before marriage, which could effectively reduce abortions. [26]

And when he encountered the cheapening of life and the encouraging of funding for abortions to aid stem cell research, he thought seriously on the matter, and his views about abortion deepened, resulting in consistent pro-life actions on stem cell research. [27]

And so he was the first republican governor who had served in a liberal state in which he had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage, and yet he has a solid, pro-life, conservative record. There was no flipping, unless one views his deepening conservative views as a flip, which were more moderate than extreme in the amount of shift, and there was certainly no flop! [28]

(The sum-total of his shift was saying he personally opposed abortion and that it should have restrictions, but be safe and legal, in 1994, to fighting the expansion of the use of abortion throughout his term in office in 2003-7 and taking solid pro-life positions. As a director at a pro-life non-profit organization stated, he went from being a mildly pro-choice senate candidate to a firmly pro-life governor-- see article in link for reference [16])