Mitt Romney’s abortion stance woes continue

It would appear that Iowa straw-poll winner Mitt Romney, who has been dogged with accusations that he changes positions to suit himself almost as often as most people change underwear, seems to no longer be able to keep up with what he says about his stance on abortion from one week to the next:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said this week that as president he would allow individual states to keep abortion legal, two weeks after telling a national television audience that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure nationwide.

In an interview with a Nevada television station on Tuesday, Romney said Roe. v. Wade should be abolished and vowed to “let states make their own decision in this regard.” On Aug. 6, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he supports a human life amendment to the Constitution that would protect the unborn.

“I do support the Republican platform, and I do support that being part of the Republican platform, and I’m pro-life,” Romney said in the ABC interview, broadcast days before his victory among conservative Iowa voters in the Ames straw poll.


As a result, his comments on the subject are parsed carefully, particularly by the other Republican candidates and abortion activists. Jon Ralston, the Las Vegas Sun columnist who interviewed Romney on KLAS television, said he was surprised by the governor’s answer.

“I thought that was a perfect example of Mitt Romney trying to thread a needle that’s very difficult to thread,” Ralston said in an interview yesterday. “I don’t see how you can be antiabortion, be in favor of a constitutional amendment and be in favor of states’ rights. . . . I don’t see how you do it.”

Well, you can’t. But a Romney advisor believes otherwise:

Top Romney advisers insisted yesterday that their candidate’s statements on abortion this month were consistent with each other. They said Romney supports a two-step process in which states get authority over abortion after Roe v. Wade is overturned, followed eventually by a constitutional amendment that bans most abortions.

James Bopp Jr., a top Romney adviser on the issue and a lawyer who has represented antiabortion organizations for decades, said Romney shares the aspirations of the antiabortion movement while understanding that its goals will not be achieved overnight.

“There’s no flip-flopping. There’s no contradiction. There’s simply step one and step two,” said Bopp, who has helped to shape the GOP’s official stance on abortion since 1980. “When he says he favors reversal of Roe v. Wade, that’s what I want to happen. I pray that will happen. Am I in favor of 14th Amendment protections applying to the unborn? Well, yeah, ultimately.”

Kathryn Jean Lopez, a strong supporter of Mitt Romney, tried to explain away the contradicting positions here:

I know it’s cool on all sides not to trust Romney, but this strikes me as no there there, despite the reporter’s contention otherwise. He supports a human life amendment but lives in the incremental real world. If Roe is overturned, states will take up the issue. If Roe is overturned, it would be helpful to have a president who supports a federal ban, and who will presumably support those trying to ban abortion in their states (something worth hearing him make clear he would). Romney’s position makes sense to me.

Sorry, no “waffle.”

I’m sorry – as much as I respect both Bopp, Jr. and Lopez, none of that makes sense. You simply can’t both support states rights on the abortion issue and also be in favor of, at a later date, outlawing abortion altogether at the federal level, which would tie the hands of the states on the issue. It’s either a states rights issue or it isn’t. It’s as simple as that.

For the record, I don’t doubt that Romney legitimately had a change of heart over the abortion issue back in 2005. But I do doubt his sincerity on whether or not he feels it should be a state or federal issue to tackle. I’m also in doubt about whether or not he’d really like to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

This is, unfortunately, how it is when you have a candidate who has become notorious for switching to whatever side of an issue will gain him the most traction with voters (like he did with illegal immigration and gay marriage). People who want to believe him are wary because they don’t trust that he’s being sincere regarding what his agenda will be if he’s elected president. If he’s known for changing his mind when it suits his purposes, who’s to say he won’t do the same thing once he’s elected?

True, no politician or candidate running for office is completely trustworthy, nor are they perfect. But at the very least a voter needs to believe that the candidate isn’t just saying whatever it takes to get elected. Voters want someone who talks with a passion about their beliefs and commitments to their ideals, who deep down is just a regular person who wants to do what he thinks is right. I got that feeling from candidate Bush. I don’t get it at all from candidate Romney.

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