This post appeared online at National Review on June 18, 2011.
Re: My Pro-Life Pledge
By Marjorie Dannenfelser
It was encouraging to see Governor Romney’s pro-life pledge. The SBA List pledge that he declined to sign is not about defunding hospitals, as was clarified to all the campaigns. However, it is very encouraging to see that he has now made clear how he would lead and advance pro-life legislation if he became president. The point of the pledge is to do just that: to get candidates to answer the question of how they would lead, given all the issues they confront at this moment, which is a true turning point in the battle to save human lives. His commitment to end government subsidization of abortion, advance and sign a federal fetal-pain law, and only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution is truly something that all pro-lifers at the grassroots will see as a victory.
However, there remains a very crucial point of disagreement. It is troubling that the governor does not agree to select only pro-life appointees for relevant cabinet and executive-branch positions, in particular the heads of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services. Truly, personnel is policy. Any attorney general in charge of vetting judges and defending pro-life legislation must have conviction and background on the issue to do it well. That is especially true on a deeply moral issue such as abortion. It’s the personnel-is-policy principle: The convictions of the person holding the position are critical to the advancement of the policy goal. To hold a position opposite to the president on the abortion issue would put such a person in an undermining position, especially given the level of leadership Governor Romney has committed to provide. It is counterintuitive to recruit a half-hearted lieutenant to assist in a battle of such consequence. In addition, any cabinet or executive-branch appointments have a ripple effect throughout the department because of all the subsequent appointments. Again, as clarified to all the campaigns, the pledge applied only to cabinet and executive-branch positions that have relevance to the abortion issue.
I share with Governor Romney the experience of being a convert on the issue of abortion. I congratulate him in his strength and courage in making that change. Knowing what we know, that abortion means the death of almost 4,000 boys and girls per day intended for this world, nothing can be too much to ask when you know that your decisions as an executive could change this reality.