GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not a shining example of consistency or clarity, particularly when it comes to reproductive rights. Having taken both sides of the abortion issue during his political career, Romney is trying to avoid giving any definitive answers on current anti-choice efforts including an effective ban on birth control. Last fall, Romney deftly ducked support of an outright ban and even called such efforts “silly” in last Saturday’s New Hampshire debate. “I can’t imagine a state banning contraception…I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception,” he said.
But as the Huffington Post’s Lauren Basset reports, Romney was much more clear about his views on contraception several years ago. As Massachusetts governor, he vetoed a “widely supported bill” making the morning-after pill available over the counter and requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims:
[A]s governor of Massachusetts in 2005, Romney took a harder line on contraception, vetoing a widely supported bill that would make the morning-after pill available over the counter in that state and require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.
His surprising veto did not stand. The Massachusetts state Senate voted unanimously to overrule it, and the state House voted 139-16 to do the same.
Romney tried to explain his controversial act by arguing in a Boston Globe op-ed that he did it in order to keep a campaign promise not to change Massachusetts’ abortion laws. But the scientific community and longstanding federal policy agree that the morning-after pill cannot end a pregnancy once it has begun.
Romney has also pledged to eliminate the Title X program which provides “reproductive health services like birth control” to millions of women. And despite his recent dodge in New Hampshire, Romney did previously voice “absolute” support for “personhood” efforts that could enforce a ban on contraception and even flirted with anti-birth control positions to court the conservative vote in Iowa. Indeed, he promised a South Carolina audience that he would expand the Bush-era rule allowing doctors to deny women access to common forms of birth control, including the pill.
As NARAL President Nancy Keenan noted, “Maybe Gov. Romney ‘can’t imagine a state banning contraception.’ But he should know that his own positions would put birth control out of reach for millions of American women.”