It should come as no surprise that Mitt Romney has once again changed his mind – and his stated position – on an election issue. Earlier this week, the formerly pro-choice, now anti-choice presidential candidate told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register that “[t]here’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” Romney did say, in the same interview, that he would reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid being used for abortions.
Romney’s latest statement marks a significant change from the Republican politician’s earlier stances on abortion. During his unsuccessful 1994 Senate run against Ted Kennedy, Romney said he supported abortion rights; likewise, in his successful 2002 campaign for governor of Massachusetts, Romney flat-out said that he “will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” Halfway through his term as governor, however, Romney flipped on the issue, and throughout this presidential campaign he has presented himself as strongly anti-choice, only supporting abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the woman.
(And even that position represents a shift from his previous anti-choice stance, in which he also supported abortion to protect the health of the woman. Many anti-choicers, including Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, oppose this exception because they believe it could create a loophole, such as an exception for a woman’s mental health.)
Of course, Romney’s language to the Register is pretty vague, and leaves him plenty of wiggle – or flip-flop – room. Note that he said there was no legislation that he was “familiar with” that would be part of his agenda. It’s not too difficult to suspect that he could become familiar with certain legislation pretty quickly if necessary, or that he would support new anti-choice legislation. It’s also not a huge leap to assume that at the very least, Romney would appoint anti-choice candidates to the Supreme Court; after all, as an Obama spokeswoman pointed out in response to Romney’s latest position, “He’s said he’d be delighted to sign a bill banning all abortions, and called Roe v. Wade ‘one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history,’ while pledging to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn it. Women simply can’t trust him.” Nor, I would add, can anyone – male or female – that cares about reproductive freedom.
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out saraherdreich.com.