That GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney announced his support for the Susan G. Komen Foundation's aborted effort to end funding for Planned Parenthood comes as no surprise. After all, defunding the group that each year provides health care and reproductive services for hundreds of thousands of American women is now a litmus test for the 2012 Republican hopefuls. But even by Romney's standards, this flip-flop is a gymnastic one. As it turns out, while Senate candidate Romney's wife donated to Planned Parenthood back in 1994, Governor Romney helped advance the group's objectives in Massachusetts.
Asked Monday if the Komen Foundation should continue to give Planned Parenthood grants for cancer screenings and mammogram referrals, Romney responded, "I don't think so." He explained:
"I also feel that the government should cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Look, the idea that we're subsidizing an institution which is providing abortion, in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood ought to stand on their own feet, and should not get government subsidy."
As ABC News revealed in 2007, Romney during his 1994 Senate run against Ted Kennedy attended a Planned Parenthood event. During a time when he was trying to establish his pro-choice bona fides with liberal Massachusetts voters, Mitt's wife Ann wrote a check for $150 to the organization. When presidential candidate Romney said in 2007 that he had "no recollection" of the fundraiser, then president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Nichols Gamble seemed surprised:
"I can understand that he might not remember the check -- it's surprising to me that he would not remember the event. His main motivation for being there was a political motivation."Whatever Mitt Romney's motivation in 1994, in 2007 his run for the GOP presidential nomination required a different answer. As Romney explained in May 2007, what his wife did - the same women who with her entire family converted to her husband's Mormon faith - did not reflect on him. As the New York Times reported:
"Her positions are not terribly relevant for my campaign."Ann Romney, too, suffered from a convenient bout of amnesia. In a January 2008 interview in Florida (around the 3:10 mark), Mrs. Romney brushed off a question about the contribution, protesting "that was 14 years ago and $100. Do you really think I'd remember? Of course, she probably did, at least as late as 2002. As Romney's wife Ann explained during his 2002 race for governor, Massachusetts voters need not worry about moderate Mitt protecting the right to choose:
ANN ROMNEY: I think women also recognize that they want someone who is going to manage the state well. I think they may be more nervous about him on social issues. They shouldn't be, because he's going to be just fine. But the perception is that he won't be. That's an incorrect perception.That "unequivocal answer" is the same one he gave to Planned Parenthood in a questionnaire the group submitted to each of the Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates in 2002. In April 2002, Mitt Romney put his mouth where his wife's money was:
MITT ROMNEY: So when asked will I preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, I make an unequivocal answer: yes.
Do you support the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade? YESTo the dismay of Romney's far-right critics like Red State founder Erick Erickson, Governor Romney followed through on many of those promises. As the Boston Globe reported in October 2005, despite his supposed pro-life conversion over stem cell research:
Do you support state funding of abortion services through Medicaid for low-income women? YES
In 1998 the FDA approved the first packaging of emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill." Emergency contraception is a high dose combination of oral contraceptives that if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can safely prevent a pregnancy from occurring. Do you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception? YES
Governor Mitt Romney has signed a bill that could expand the number of people who get family-planning services, including the morning-after pill, confusing some abortion and contraception foes who had been heartened by his earlier veto of an emergency contraception bill. ... The services include the distribution of condoms, abortion counseling, and the distribution of emergency contraception, or morning after pills, by prescription ...And as it turns out, Romney's signature health care law in 2006 codified Planned Parenthood's role in helping set Massachusetts policy. As Erickson grumbled, the law states that the MassHealth payment policy advisory board shall include "1 member appointed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts." (In 2007, Romney declared, "It's certainly not something that was in my bill.")
Of course, for Mitt Romney, these events are distant history. Like his "unwavering" pledge to back Roe v. Wade, his past support for Planned Parenthood is water under the bridge. (Ann Keenan, the "dear, close family relative" who death from an illegal abortion inspired his former pro-choice position, has been thrown off that same bridge.) As he put it in "My Pro-Life Pledge" in June 2011:
I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.Of course, the claim that Planned Parenthood "primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services" is, as Jon Kyl was forced to admit, "not intended to be a factual statement." In any event, with his call to eliminate all Title X funding (and with it, services for 5 million women annually, including 2.2 million Pap smears, 2.3 million breast exams, nearly 6 million tests for sexually transmitted infections), Mitt Romney's reversal on Planned Parenthood is now complete.
I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.