Coffin at NRO: Romney's Pledge Duck

This post originally appeared online at National Review on June 18, 2011.

Romney’s Pledge Duck
By Shannen Coffin 

Kathryn, I am afraid that you’re letting Mitt Romney off the hook way too easily. Susan B. Anthony’s List has four parts:

I PLEDGE that I will only support candidates for President who are committed to protecting Life. I demand that any candidate I support commit to these positions: FIRST, to nominate to the U.S. federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench;

SECOND, to select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services;

THIRD, to advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;

FOURTH, advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion. 

Romney’s purported complaint apparently relates to the push to “defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions.” It identifies the significant problem of indirect federal funding of abortion — a problem that I am sure you recognize, Kathryn. That it suggests a fairly drastic remedy may be a reason to tweak the pledge, but not abandon it entirely. In any event, as a normative goal, it is a subject of fair debate, even if the method of accomplishing it may require careful study. 

Even if you are unwilling to push for such a dramatic measure, does it not seem reasonable to identify whether a candidate supports the other parts of the pledge? Where is Romney on judges and cabinet appointments? Does he even support defunding of Planned Parenthood — a measure that has broad support within the Republican party?  

This is hardly a stand for principle on the part of Romney, and should be viewed with some skepticism against his claim to be a pro-lifer — a claim that has very little support in his record of governance. Mary Ann Glendon has unquestionable integrity on these issues, but her defense falls short in this instance. 

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