Mitt Romney tried to reassure conservatives of his pro-life credentials during an appearance on Fox News’ Huckabee Saturday night, presenting himself as a “pro-life” candidate who would prefer to “let the courts decide that states have the ability to make their own decisions in regards to abortion.” Romney also hinted that he would push for new federal restrictions to abortion access similar to the legislation being challenged in court in some states:
ROMNEY: I’d make sure that justices that go to the Supreme Court are justices that have a conviction to follow the law and not create the law from the bench. I would encourage legislation which provided to individuals the information they needed to make a choice, an informed choice about whether or not to have an abortion. My view is that the Supreme Court should reverse Roe v. Wade and send to the state the responsibility of deciding whether they’re going to have abortion legal in their state or not.
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Romney’s support for federally-mandated counseling or waiting periods is troubling, particularly since Romney is a big proponent of states’ rights and during a recent debate claimed that he opposes President Obama’s health reform because it inserts a “bureaucrat between you and your doctor.”
As the Guttmacher Institute explains, while “every state requires that a patient consent before undergoing medical treatment” and provided adequate and appropriate information, some legislatures have enacted abortion counseling requirements that “run afoul of these principles by requiring information that is irrelevant or misleading.” For instance, in 2010, “Missouri amended an existing biased-counseling law to require providers to tell women that abortion ends ‘the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” South Carolina provides materials “concerning the contribution that each parent makes to the genetic constitution of their biological child,” and doctors are currently challenging a new ultrasound law in North Carolina that requires a doctor to provide “an obstetric real-time view” of the fetus at least four hours before an abortion and before any anesthesia is given.
Thirty-four states require that women receive counseling before an abortion is performed, which creates hardships for women by requiring them to come back for multiple visits or wait for specified time periods in between appointments. Twenty-four of the 34 states also detail the information a woman must be provided, and 10 states have abortion-specific requirements generally following the established principles of informed consent. Six states currently mandate “that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion, and require the provider to offer the woman the opportunity to view the image.”
During an appearance at a social conservative forum last month, Romney also pledged to restore and strengthen a Bush-era “conscience protection law” that would allow providers to deny women access to some forms of contraception.