Every pro-life voter knows that Mitt Romney has a troubling record on abortion. Those of us who have chosen to support him hope that the change of heart he describes on this issue is real, and that it will translate to words and actions that will assist our cause. But he has miles to go, as some of his some of his recent comments (and subsequent clarifications) have indicated. At Crisis this morning, Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) discusses the weaknesses Romney has in addressing the pro-life cause.
Tackling the tricky subjects of Mexico City policy, which Romney says he will reinstate, and UNFPA, which he will defund, Ruse says that these are the “bare minimum” aspects of a pro-life policy, and don’t go nearly far enough. In fact, it’s impossible to know how much effect they have in real terms.
I am not saying these things are not important to pro-lifers. They are. But they are a bare minimum. They are the lowest possible hanging fruit. What we want is for our politicians to climb the ladder and reach for the fruit on the top of the tree. Mexico City Policy and defunding UNFPA cannot replace the large bore pro-life demands such as a pro-life Attorney General, a pro-life Secretary of Health and Human Services, judges and justices who are originalists and texturalists who can be counted on the interpret the constitution in its plain meaning and not in its “penumbras” and “emanations”. And these are just for starters.
Touting these things is similar to politicians using partial birth abortion to prove they are pro-life. Partial birth abortion is a barbaric practice that crushes the skull of a child in the process of being delivered. Opposing this cannot be proof of being pro-life. Again, it is the bare minimum.
Part of the problem is that many politicians, including Romney, are strangers in the pro-life land. They do not speak the language. They are like American tourists trying to order coffee in Rome. It is a fairly easy thing to do but also easy to fumble unless you do it every day.
Romney stumbled earlier when he said he would accept abortion for the health of the mother, apparently not knowing that the health exception in Doe v. Bolton is what gave us abortion on demand in the first place. Even true-blue pro-lifer Todd Akin stumbled badly on the pro-choice gotcha question of the rape exception. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock did, too. A few days ago he said a pregnancy from rape was the will of God.
Romney and others could do with serious drilling in Pro-Life Language 101 and they could do worse in learning from Georgette Forney and Serrin Foster, both experts in speaking the kind of pro-life language that appeals to women.
What would such language sound like from a Romney administration? Ruse suggests:
Fully catechized by Forney and Foster, Romney may no longer stumble. Asked if he has a legislative plan on abortion, Governor Romney would say, “I believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and hope to see it overturned. In the meantime, both through legislation and executive appointments, my administration will help women in their time of need. My administration and I will not abandon them. We will not leave them all alone with that terrible ‘choice’.”
This is the most sophisticated pro-life language there is, and has the added advantage of being a totally foreign language to abortion advocates who prefer women to be isolated and alone in that terrifying little room at Planned Parenthood.
If Romney is elected, we need to pray and act, where possible, to see that he embrace such an approach to the pro-life issue, and that he will decide to do more than pay lip service to the single greatest evil facing our nation today.