Sunday, February 25, 2018
Opinion

Multiple- Choice Mitt on abortion

It was a hoot seeing Mitt Romney featured in a video tribute to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy at last week's Democratic National Convention. The clip was from a 1994 senatorial debate in which the young Romney flanks left to unseat the great liberal lion. With earnest conviction Romney declares his support for Roe vs. Wade, proclaiming that "abortion should be safe and legal in this country."

To this shape-shifting Kennedy retorts, "I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple-choice." Romney lost the Senate race but kept up his support of abortion rights to eventually win the governorship of Massachusetts. In announcing his candidacy in 2002, Romney promised to "protect the right of a woman to choose."

Then, as Romney was beginning to flirt with presidential aspirations, he came to his famous conversion to oppose abortion rights in 2004, just as it became apparent that a moderate Republican couldn't win evangelical-heavy primaries. His act of revelatory affirmation was to veto legislation in 2005 that would have protected rape victims from unwanted pregnancies by requiring hospital emergency rooms to offer morning-after pills. Romney explained in an op-ed column that the pill would "terminate life after conception."

In the National Review, Romney's top strategist at the time, Mike Murphy, explained this startling about-face this way: "He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly." Murphy's claim was sheepishly retracted, but really, could anything have a clearer ring of truth?

These days Multiple-Choice Mitt generally takes what I'd call a straddling right-wing approach to abortion rights. He opposes Roe and a woman's right to choose but would make exceptions for rape or incest, and would let states decide. It's an anti-abortion-lite position that tells abortion rights Republicans and independents living in the Northeast not to worry. Their rights would be safe in a Romney administration since liberal states would protect them.

Don't believe it. Romney's choice of Ryan as his running mate did more than burnish his culture war cred. It was a promised direction for a Romney administration. Ryan's co-sponsorship of the "Sanctity of Human Life Act" with Senate candidate Todd "legitimate rape" Akin, is a peek at the kind of thinking Romney put on the ticket to reassure the far right that he is one of them.

The bill expands the way a human being is defined under the U.S. Constitution to include a fertilized egg. Ryan wants to transform embryos into full legal persons with the same rights as you and I. No abortion would be legal even for rape and incest, since abortion would equate to murder. This is the posture of the Republican Party's 2012 platform. It calls for the expansion of the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment to include the unborn.

If this happened, no court and no state could permit legal abortion. No exceptions. Women, even rape victims, would face criminal charges for having an abortion, and potentially for their miscarriages. In vitro fertilization and embryonic stem cell research would be murderous acts, too. Romney, the Harvard Law School grad, understands this only too well.

Under this legal regime, the tragic story of the 11-year-old girl in Largo who was raped and impregnated by a convicted felon and her mother's live-in boyfriend would be sadder still. The little girl would be forced by the state to bring the pregnancy to term no matter how it impacted her life prospects or physical and mental health.

In the past, Romney has declared his support for making embryos legal people. In 2007, Romney told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he endorses the 2004 Republican Party platform calling for a Human Life Amendment, which contained essentially the same language as this year's.

Then, in October 2011, Romney had this exchange with Fox News host Mike Huckabee over a hypothetical personhood amendment in Massachusetts: "Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?" Romney's response: "Absolutely." Romney wants evangelical voters to hear this answer and see his choice of "no exceptions" Ryan. He wants independents and women to think his stance on abortion is less doctrinaire. Like his prior "pro-choice" years, it adds up to little more than audience-ready views, made to order and intrinsically untrustworthy.

Comments
Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18