Political Animal


October 19, 2012 4:45 PM More Bobbing and Weaving on Abortion

By Ed Kilgore

Strangely enough, Mitt Romney’s ever-slippery position on abortion policy, one of the enduringly shameful features of his entire public career, is at the center of an argument that the mean old Obama campaign and the mean old Democrats are lying about Mitt’s positions and denying him his proper mantle of moderate conservatism.

Kevin Drum’s not having any of that:

It’s true that Romney thinks (accurately) that no flat ban on abortion is likely to cross the president’s desk in the near future. So in the sense of trying to figure out what will actually happen over the next four or eight years, it’s probably true that a President Romney wouldn’t have a chance to sign a flat ban on abortion.
But that’s only half of what any election is about. The other half is about what a prospective candidate wants to do. I don’t think the United States will ever return to the gold standard, for example, but the fact that Ron Paul supports it tells me that he’s a crank. That’s reason enough not to vote for him.
Likewise, even if Romney never has the opportunity to sign a nationwide ban on abortion, he’s obviously saying that he’d like to if he ever got the chance. What’s more, Romney probably would get a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade by appointing a Sam Alito clone to the Supreme Court, and he knows very well that this would result in plenty of states flatly banning abortion. This tells me he’s an abortion extremist, and it tells me a lot about who he is. It’s fair game.

Correct. But I’d go further. Aside from Romney’s comment on a hypothetical flat federal abortion ban, which would be obviously unconstitutional until such time as a President Romney stacked the Supreme Court to reverse Roe, he promised in his “My Pro-Life Pledge” ukase published by National Review in the early stages of the nomination fight to “advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.” That would be a federal version of the state legislation being promoted around the country testing the very margins of Roe by banning abortions before an arbitrary point at which a very small minority of scientists and a very large majority of antichoicers claim a fetus can feel pain.

So looking at the big picture, Mitt Romney’s promised to do everything within his power to restrict abortion rights under Roe, and then everything within his power to get it reversed, all within a “pro-life” position that sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t include exceptions for the incredibly tiny percentage of pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, or direct threats to the life of the woman involved. And this has been his basic position since 2007, or at least as long as Paul Ryan has refrained from public praise of Ayn Rand as his great mentor and become a self-proclaimed Thomist.

It should also be recalled that Mitt has identified himself unambiguously with the argument of conservative religious figures that the HHS contraception coverage mandate is objectionable because it includes “abortifacients,” reflecting the belief of anti-choice ultras that Plan B, IUDs, and even standard contraceptive pills actually kill human beings.

This does not add up to a “moderate” position on abortion, however Team Mitt tries to bob and weave and play the victim.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • TCin LA on October 19, 2012 4:53 PM:

    As the President said today:

    "But now that we're 18 days out from the election, Mr. 'Severely Conservative' wants you to think he was 'severely kidding' about everything he's said over the last year. He told folks he was 'the ideal candidate' for the Tea Party, now suddenly he's saying, 'what, who, me?' He's forgetting what his own positions are, and he's betting that you will too.

    "I mean he's changing up so much, backtracking and sidestepping. We've gotta name this condition that he's going through. I think it's called "Romnesia." -- That's what it's called. I think that's what he's going through.

    "Now, I'm not a medical doctor but I do want to go over some of the symptoms with you -- because I want to make sure nobody else catches it.

    "If you say you're for equal pay for equal work, but you keep refusing to say whether or not you'd sign a bill that protects equal pay for equal work -- you might have Romnesia.

    "If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let your employer deny you contraceptive care -- you might have a case of Romnesia.

    "If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you'd be "delighted" to sign a law outlawing that right to choose in all cases -- man, you've definitely got Romnesia.

    "Now, this extends to other issues. If you say earlier in the year I'm going to give a tax cut to the top 1 percent and then in a debate you say, I don't know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks -- you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you've probably got Romnesia.

    "If you say that you're a champion of the coal industry when while you were Governor you stood in front of a coal plant and said, 'this plant will kill you' -- that's some Romnesia.

    "So, I think you're beginning to be able to identify these symptoms. And if you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises you've made over the six years you've been running for president, here's the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions.

    "We can fix you up. We've got a cure. We can make you well, Virginia. This is a curable disease.

  • stormskies on October 19, 2012 5:23 PM:

    It is just fucking incredible to watch the corporate props called pundits create propaganda about this election in order to confuse/ deceive voters as to the actual reality of the presidential race.

    First, they declared Romney the 'winner' of the first debate even though all he did was lie: 27 lies in 38 minutes. And this was then the cause of the 'boost' for Romney, and the great shift in the polls because of. In other words this great boost for him was based on lies.

    Obama clearly wiped the floor with Romney who was reduced to pathetic sniveling. And Obama was then declared the winner of this debate. Yet, according to the corporate creeps who make the polls no boost at all, and some of them even pretend that Romney is actually gaining even more momentum. Based on what ? More lies ?

    So Romney gets a boost, but Obama doesn't, and, in fact, Romney's lead is increasing.

    There are only two ways to explain this. Either the corporate media is inventing these polls using methodologies to get the results they want, or the American people themselves are so fucking stupid that there probably is not an actual word to describe just how fucking stupid they are.

    What the fuck: we have Gallup suddenly pretending that that women are now equally divided between Obama and Romney after there has been about a 20% advantage for Obama. Really ? Based on exactly what ? That Romney wants to criminalize abortion ? That he doesn't want equal pay for women ? This is why they are suddenly flocking to him ?

    This pathetic example illustrates exactly what is going on in our country relative to the propaganda generated by the polls, and the corporate props called pundits.

    In essence they are trying to make us 'believe' shit that just isn't true. Why ? Because they are trying to lay the ground work to make us accept the fact that when the corporations and the oligarchy successfully installs Romney as president via a stolen election that we will just accept it.

  • Peter C on October 19, 2012 5:23 PM:

    The whole idea of legislation around 'pain-capable unborn children' makes me sick. Pain cannot currently be measured; it is utterly subjective. Laws need to be specific.

    And, even if one could measure it, how would these sickos define the fetal age when it would apply? Who's gonna do the research??? NOT MY BLOODY GOVERNMENT! This is another idea from the gang that thought that waterboarding was just a fraternity prank.

    I hate that these vile people are a part of my government.

  • c u n d gulag on October 19, 2012 5:50 PM:

    Peter C,
    And those people hate the fact that "vile people" like you and me are alive and dare to breathe.

    These "Pro-life" people, or a decent chunk of them, would gladly torture and kill every singe Liberal.

    All in the name of "The Prince of Peace,' of course.

  • Peter C on October 19, 2012 6:06 PM:

    It just astounds me, CUND, that the Tea baggers are afraid of a resurgence of Nazism, but side with the gang that launched a pre-emptive war based upon lies and held that secret wiretaps and torture were necessary to 'keep us safe', and look for Nazis among those who want to cut the defense budget and make sure all people get healthcare as a basic right.

    It takes something very close to evil to plant such ideas in these poor, frightened, confused peoples' minds.

  • dalloway on October 19, 2012 6:12 PM:

    Romney will sign a bill outlawing all abortion, no exceptions, giving zygotes the rights of personhood. How do I know? Look who he picked for VP. That was a big, fat signal that if elected, he'll implement Ryan's agenda. Period. Full stop. Look what Walker did in Wisconsin. Once they're in, all bets are off -- it's their way or the highway. If you're dumb enough to vote for them (they believe) you deserve what you get.

  • Mitch on October 19, 2012 6:21 PM:


    I would say that those who are dumb enough to vote for him (particularly the working class, and those on the lower end of the economic spectrum), that they DO deserve what they get.

    It's the rest of America that doesn't deserve it.

  • Peter C on October 19, 2012 6:28 PM:

    You are right @dalloway; Mitt would sign it. He might not introduce such a bill, but I can't imagine he'd veto it. It will be written by the likes of Akins and King and Bachmann, but Mitt will sign it. And, we can't count on a filibuster in the Senate. McConnell will whip-out the 'nuclear' option and do away with the filibuster in a Kentucky minute to get such a bill to Mitt's desk.

  • joanneinDenver on October 20, 2012 10:28 AM:

    Republicans are not going to eliminate abortion. Republicans are going to eliminate the Medical Family Leave Act...according to the talk on Denver radio.

    As long as the abortion issue can obscure this real threat to women's ability to be both mothers and employees, the republicans will talk up abortion. It is like throwing peanuts at monkeys.

  • KarkAwark on November 10, 2012 7:47 PM:

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