This post originally appeared online at The Brody File on June 17, 2011.
Mitt Romney And The Pro-Life Pledge
by David Brody
Get ready for a new line of attack against Mitt Romney from his critics and from the GOP presidential candidates.
The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), one of the top pro-life groups in the country announced today which Republican candidates for President signed their Pro-Life Presidential Pledge. Mitt Romney didn’t sign it (Neither did Herman Cain or Gary Johnson). The rest of the GOP field did.
The Brody File will offer analysis below but first read the pledge and then read the statement sent to me by Gail Gitcho, Mitt Romney’s Communications Director.
I PLEDGE that I will only support candidates for President who are committed to protecting Life. I demand that any candidate I support commit to these positions:
FIRST, to nominate to the U.S. federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench;
SECOND, to select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services;
THIRD, to advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;
FOURTH, advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.
Here’s the statement by Gail Gitcho, Romney’s Communications Director:
Mitt Romney pledged in the last campaign that he would be a pro-life president and of course he pledges it today. However, this well-intentioned effort has some potentially unforeseen consequences and he does not feel he could in good conscience sign it.
The pledge calls for legislation to strip taxpayer funding from thousands of health care facilities, including VA hospitals around the country, and strictly limits the choices a President would have to appoint federal officials.Mitt Romney will appoint judges who will faithfully interpret the constitution and not legislate from the bench.
Gov. Romney has been a strong supporter of the SBA List in the past and he looks forward to continue working with them to promote a culture of life. The bottom line is that Governor Romney is firmly pro-life.
Let’s start with the obvious. You can bet someone in the GOP presidential field is going to bring this up at the next debate in August (Santorum? Bachmann? Pawlenty?). As for Romney’s critics, they’re going to have a field day with this one. They’ll point to this as Exhibit A that he can’t be trusted on the life issue. But The Brody File isn’t so sure that’s the case.
Look, let’s be honest. There is validity in the fact that the pledge does seem pretty broad in some parts and could hamstring a president at some point. Does that mean Mitt Romney isn’t pro-life or doesn’t believe in advancing pro-life legislation? Not at all. Sure, it may give some evangelicals pause because of his past pro-choice position (He has now been pro-life for close to a decade) but has anybody considered the fact that Mitt Romney is actually being very authentic here? In other words, instead of kissing up to a pro-life group just so he can have political cover and check off a box has it crossed anybody’s mind that he’s simply being sensible about the implications of the pledge? If he thinks the pledge would “strip taxpayer funding from thousands of health care facilities, including VA hospitals around the country” then why would he sign it in the first place? In a way, it’s actually pretty courageous of Romney NOT to sign it.
Only time will tell if Romney will ever get the chance to be a great pro-life president. While not signing the pledge may hurt him politically in the short term, ultimately his bread and butter are going to be selling America and GOP voters on his economic plan. That’s his meal ticket. This would have hurt him in 2008. In 2012, the reality is it may not be as bad as his critics would like it to be.