Jane Romney could have lived out the rest of her brother Mitt’s presidential campaign in relative anonymity—at least among me and my uppity abortion rights-demanding, birth control-loving friends. But then like many a big sister before her, Jane had to go and open up her mouth and get all newsworthy …
Mitt Romney would never make abortions illegal as president, Jane Romney said when National Journal asked her about the subject after a “Women for Mitt” event.” He’s not going to be touching any of that,” she said. “It’s not his focus.”
Do I think Jane’s playing Stepford sis? Having spent half my life in the strangest of estranged families, I honestly hope she believes that what she said about how her brother would handle abortion in office is the truth. Presidencies are eight years at most. Family is forever.
Like many Romney apologists, Jane Romney probably likes to point to his past. Once upon a time when Mitt was a Massachusetts politician, he was for abortion rights. Even took pot shots at folks who said otherwise.
But that was then. Now, as the Republican presidential nominee, he’s fond of saying his position is clear, though in the past few weeks he’s rarely given the same answer twice. “My own view is that I oppose abortion except for cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is threatened,” he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on August 24. Later that week, he told CBS News: ”My position has been clear throughout this campaign,” he said. “I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother.”
Fortunately for all of us, Nicholas D. Kristof took the time this past weekend to introduce Mitt to his Tea Partying self:
On your campaign Web site, you say that life begins at conception and that you favor overturning Roe v. Wade. As with the Republican Party platform, you give no indication there that you favor an exception for rape or to save a woman’s life.
Likewise, you seemed to endorse a “personhood” initiative like the one in Mississippi last year that would have treated a fertilized egg as a legal person. It failed because of concerns that an abortion, even to save a woman’s life, could be legally considered murder. It might also have banned in vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control.
If I were Jane Romney, I wouldn’t want to believe that my brother would throw this particular piece of red meat to the religious right. But there are only a few things a president can do all by their lonesome, and picking a Supreme Court nominee is one of them. (Another is ruling on the Hyde Amendment, or global gag order.)
Let’s just say Jane Romney wouldn’t be the first sister whose brother made a fool of her. Or the first pro-choice woman to stand by her squishier man: Barbara and Laura Bush come to mind. So as much as I love a big mouth big sis, I wish she had kept quiet. She can afford to take a chance on her brother’s good intentions. The rest of us deserve better.
It’s tough to be the odd woman out in any family. And sometimes the only solace is knowing that even the orneriest of relatives can only vote once—same as you. If you’re wondering whether familial political infighting is for you, check out Gina Barreca’s Political Host Profile quiz. The sanity you save may be your own.
Jodi is a freelance writer and recovering academic with more enthusiasm for sports than athletic talent and a prodigious taste for the health food known as dark chocolate.