Romney Pressures Group To Stop Criticizing His Health Law For Offering Government-Subsidized Abortion Coverage

Earlier this week, Citizens For Life, an anti-abortion group operating in Massachusetts, announced that it was gearing up a campaign to place a question on the state’s 2012 ballot asking voters if they would support repealing the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance coverage. The mandate is part of former Gov. Mitt Romney’s signature health care reform law and has successfully lowered the state’s uninsurance rate. But abortion groups oppose the measure because it provides government-sponsored abortion coverage — as just one service within a comprehensive benefit package — to residents who participate in the state’s Commonwealth Care exchange. “RomneyCare covers abortions, and the mandate forces citizens to participate in a system which strives to make the murder of unborn children as cheap as $50,’’ the group explained on its website yesterday. “There are, however, many more ways which this requirement offends against both the sanctity of human life, principles of ethical medicine and simple common sense.’’

But as the Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson reports, the group has since stripped the abortion criticism from its site at the request of Romney’s presidential campaign:

Yesterday, Citizens for Life removed the statement from its website and immediately began distancing itself from that line of attack, after being contacted by Peter Flaherty, Romney’s liaison to social conservatives. Fox blamed the statement on a staff member at Citizens for Life, and said it did not reflect the group’s views.

“I was extremely upset,’’ she said. “He has removed it. I thought, ‘Where did this come from, because it had my name on it, and I never wrote it.’ ’’

Romney supported preserving access to abortion until 2004, when — among rumors that he was gearing up for a presidential bid — he declared himself “pro-life” and began opposing the procedure. By the time he enacted health care reform in 2006, Romney had no say over the health care benefit package offered by Commonwealth Care — that was determined by an independent public board called The Connector Authority and grounded in established state court precedent.

In response to the group’s ballot effort, Romney’s spokeswoman Andrea Saul released a statement saying that that the governor still supported his health law, including the requirement to purchase coverage. But if Romney’s position on abortion is any indication, that too may soon be subject to change.