(Photo: Reuters/Chris Keane)
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is defending his abortion views against an ad from the Newt Gingrich campaign accusing him of making pro-abortion decisions when he was governor of Massachusetts.
“What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life?” the ad asks. “He governed pro-abortion.”
The ad claims that Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board while failing to put a pro-life group on the same board, and signed government mandated healthcare with taxpayer funded abortions.
Those claims were characterized as “inaccurate and deceitful” by Ryan Williams, press secretary for the Romney campaign, in an interview with The Christian Post. “Every decision Gov. Romney made came down on the side of life.”
According to Williams, the taxpayer funded abortions in Massachusetts are the result of a Massachusetts court decision, not Romney’s action. In 1981, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state constitution required payment for abortion services for Medicaid eligible women.
Williams also claimed that Romney vetoed a bill that would have required hospitals and pharmacists to provide the “morning after pill” and, while there were many board and advisory commissions, Planned Parenthood was given no role in appointments that would make decisions on what the health care plans would or would not cover.
The Romney campaign countered the ad from former Speaker of the House Gingrich with an ad featuring a pro-life activist and robo-calls to South Carolina voters.
“It struck me as very unfortunate that Mitt Romney has been criticized by some people for coming to a pro-life position on the basis of information. That is what the pro-life movement is all about,” Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon says in the ad.
Glendon's recorded voice is also being used in robo-calls to potential voters in South Carolina.
Some of Romney's critics have accused him of switching from pro-choice to pro-life out of political expediency because he was planning to run for president.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and executive editor of The Christian Post, was asked about that Friday in a C-Span interview. “Do you trust Mitt Romney on the issue of life?”
“I do,” Land responded. “Of course I've had the advantage of having him personally explain to me his change on the issue. ... He was trying to make a decision about stem-cell research and as he examined the data, he said, 'I came to the inescapable conclusion that we're dealing with human life.' So, I do trust him on the human life issue.”
South Carolina has a large number of evangelical voters for whom the abortion issue is a high priority. Most of those evangelicals, who are concentrated in the northern and middle parts of the state, are expected to split their support between former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Gingrich.
Romney is expected to win more moderate Republicans and independents, which are found in higher concentrations in the southern and coastal regions of the state.
While he is not expected to win the evangelical vote in South Carolina, Romney still needs to win some evangelical votes to win the state. His pro-life ad and associated robo-calls are likely an attempt to stave off too much damage from Gingrich's ad accusing Romney of being a pro-abortion governor.
The next Republican debates will be Monday night on Fox News and Thursday night on CNN. The South Carolina primary is Saturday.