Romney Abortion

Romney Abortion

Okay, now I am totally confused about Mitt Romney’s ever-moving position on the abortion issue.  You don’t think he is trying to cater to as many people as possible, do you?

In the past, I’ve written about how when Romney was Governor of Massachusetts he was pro-choice straight down the line.  And not only was he pro-choice in terms of legislation, he actually met regularly with staff people from the Massachusetts branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League to strategize.  They were buddies.

Romney Abortion

Romney Abortion

Then, when Mitt decided to run for President, his position on this very basic issue started to “evolve.”

Now, I can see how over a period of years someone might change their views on certain economic models or on the pros and cons of rehabilitating prisoners.  There are a lot of fuzzy areas in those issues so one could become more educated over time.  But abortion?   Gimme a break!  What is more fundamental than whether or not to allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy?  I mean, there’s something living inside the woman’s body and, if she gets an abortion, that once-living thing is no longer living, pure and simple.  How does an adult “evolve” on that basic issue?  Did Romney suddenly learn how pregnancies work?

Romney Abortion

Romney Abortion

Of course, the answer is he had to be pro-life to get the Republican nomination.  That’s because the nominating process in that party is totally dominated by right wing nut balls and you gotta pander to them if you hope to have any chance of securing the nomination.  And Romney did pander.  Oh, no, I’m sorry.   He “evolved.”

So now that he has the nomination, he’s had to shift gears again to cater to the independent voters. And to do that you have to move to the political middle.  So, the other day Mitt Romney actually declared that ““There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my legislative agenda.”

What the hell?

Is Romney telling us that when the new Congress comes to town and pro-life Congressman James McNabb from Podunk, Illinois introduces legislation banning third trimester abortions or requiring women to get the consent of their husbands, he will have absolutely nothing to say about those bills? If the Republican House of Representatives decides to pursue one of those “personhood” measures on a national level, is Mitt Romney actually going to resist the incredible amount of pressure from the pro-life lobbyists and not take a position on that issue?

Poppycock.  He just continues to pander to anyone who will listen.

I will give him some credit, however, in that he is actually being candid when it comes to Planned Parenthood.  He has said unequivocally that he will “cut off funding for Planned Parenthood”  and that is certainly an extreme position that might not go over well with independent voters.  The irony, of course, is that Planned Parenthood clinics probably prevent thousands of abortions each year but then Romney probably still has not “evolved” on the issue of birth control.  Give him 20 more years to catch up.

Hopefully, the American public, and especially those who for some unfathomable reason are still undecided, will not buy into this “it’s not on my agenda” bull crap.  Indeed, if Obama is not in another coma during the next debate, this is an issue that he should jump all over.

Abortion Congress

Abortion Congress

No matter what your position on the abortion issue, I think we can all agree that our government is virtually paralyzed.  No one can get anything done and the simple explanation is those “special interests” that focus just on their particular issue.  Indeed, just about every group that does some lobbying rates Members of Congress and come election time everyone runs to see if he or she has that vaunted 100 percent voting record on their issue.  If they don’t, watch out.  Lemme give you a good example.

One of my best friends is a Congressman from Virginia.  He’s been around for many years, I’ve worked on his campaign, donated money, etc.  When he ran for Congress the first time he did something unusual – he actually ran commercials highlighting how he was pro-choice.  He won that race and in the years after that, he earned a 100 percent voting record with the National Abortion Rights Action League.   And every time a new campaign cycle came around, he received the maximum $5,000 contribution from NARAL.

Then one day, while I was at the office of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, he gave me a call.  “Pat, what the hell is this partial birth abortion thing?”   As readers of this blog know, the “partial birth abortion” procedure as dubbed by pro-lifers, entailed pulling the live fetus down the birth canal, removing the contents of the cranium to deflate the skull, then removing the fetus from the canal.  The doctor who developed this technique explained it was designed for women with small birth canals.  Well, the shit hit the fan when the anti-abortion movement discovered this procedure.  And folks like my friend in Congress, who is Catholic, were horrified.

I explained to him as much as I could about this procedure but he was clearly uncomfortable. Then, to his credit, he told me bluntly that he felt he had to vote to ban the procedure and, as much as I was disappointed, I actually admired how he had examined this issue based on the individual merits.

Ultimately, the votes were cast and he voted to ban the procedure.  At that point, it did not become law because President Clinton vetoed the bill.  The ban later became law under President Bush.

And in the next election cycle, the NARAL-PAC gave him NO money.

One vote and his 100% record was gone – and his “friends” felt they had to punish him for daring to vote against them.  As we know, several pro-choice Members of Congress did the same, including Senator Daniel Moynihan and Representative Patrick Kennedy.

This is how Washington, D.C. works folks.  Either you toe the line or watch your back.  And this is why nothing ever gets done.



I want to talk about two pro-choice people who have been in the news lately.

The first is a pro-choice activist named Ted Shulman.  It seems that this turkey recently pled guilty to making death threats against Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and Princeton Professor Robert George.  He could face up to 51 months in federal custody and will be sentenced on September 12.  He has called himself the “first pro-choice terrorist.”

Maybe I’m missing something here, but I’ve done some research and am bothered that I have not seen the major pro-choice groups condemning this nut ball.  For many, many years we have been quick to criticize the pro-life movement when they seem to disappear when one of their own engages in acts of violence or, if they do condemn the action, it is always with the caveat that “if the abortionist did not engage in the act of killing himself perhaps this would not have happened” or words to that effect.

Well, this pro-choicer is not going to play games with something as serious as this.  Let me for the record condemn the actions of Mr. Shulman and I hope he does serve his time.  What this guy did was wrong – period.



The other person I want to talk about is Nancy Keenan, the Executive Director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League, who recently announced that she will be leaving the organization after the November presidential elections.

Interestingly, Nancy said she is moving on because it’s time to let the “younger folks” take over the reins.  Now, Nancy is only 60 years old which, to me at least, still seems “not very old” but she makes a good point.

Many years ago, I was the Director of Government Affairs for NARAL.  Literally two days after I joined the staff, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a constitutional amendment overturned Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.  During that time, millions of dollars rolled into the NARAL office and it seemed like every day we were hiring a new staff person.  Meanwhile, there were rallies all across the country, marches on Washington, television commercials.  It was a very exciting time and many younger folks were engaged in the debate.

Ultimately, we won the battle as we defeated the amendment handily.  But, once we turned back the threat to legal abortion, many of those activists left the movement and moved on to other issues.  That is ironic down side when you win something.

Then, in the ensuing years the Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress and the state legislatures started chipping away at Roe but those battles weren’t “sexy” enough to get all the troops revved up again.  There was no prominent “devil” to focus on.  On the other hand, the pro-life movement always had the fetus to keep its attention so they kept the pressure up.  Later the clinic protest movement grew bigger as some decided to take the battle to the streets, right at the spot where “babies were being killed.”

Polls can always be deceiving but generally it does appear that there are more young folks involved in the pro-life movement than the pro-choice movement.  One possible reason is that they now have their “devil” in Barack Obama, who they like to call the “most pro-abortion President in our history.”

Frankly, if I were back at NARAL, I’m not sure what I would do to try to get the younger generation more energized.  They certainly don’t remember the old days of illegal abortion and campaigns to try to remind them have failed.  Meanwhile, it’s hard to get energized about a right that they have grown up with.

Nancy has the right idea.  But she and NARAL have a tough task ahead.

John Stewart

John Stewart

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I’m sorry folks, but I cannot resist writing again about my legislature here in Virginia.  After all, our elected officials, including Governor Bob McDonnell, have been the butt of jokes on Saturday Night Live and John Stewart.  Why shouldn’t I jump into the mosh pit?

By now, everyone knows how the legislature passed a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before they could get their abortion.  The unstated purpose of the legislation, of course, was to put yet one more (expensive) obstacle in the way of women seeking to obtain a legal medical service.  Oh, sure, the pro-lifers argued that women need to have even more information about the abortion procedure because, well they don’t say it out loud but, women are DUMB.  But thankfully we have these strong, sensitive, intelligent mostly male legislators to get women through this procedure!

Anti Abortion Governor

Anti Abortion Governor

Ultimately, however, the boys found out that many women would have to get a vaginal ultrasound, which means sticking a probe up “there.”  Suddenly, charges of “State Sponsored Rape” hit the airwaves, jokes abounded and Virginia became a national laughing stock.  How did all of this happen?

Bills in the Virginia legislature move very, very fast.  A hearing on a bill can last only an hour and they are usually perfunctory exercises.  That’s particularly true with the abortion issue, where elected officials are either for or against.  It is a rare legislator who actually thinks about this issue and 99 percent of them vote on abortion like lemmings to the sea.  They just have their aide check to see the position of the pro-life or pro-choice groups and they vote with their buddies, the goal being getting a 100 percent rating on their annual “scorecards.”

Vaginal Probe Sonogram

Vaginal Probe Sonogram

So, in this case when the vote came up, both sides voted accordingly.  Then, the poop hit the fan.  It seems that some lawyer from out of state actually thought about the effect of the bill and reasoned that the “jelly belly” ultrasound for a woman who was in the early stages of pregnancy wouldn’t work because you can’t see the fetus that well which meant that they’d have to perform a – dare I say it – vaginal ultrasound!  Even the folks at Virginia NARAL were surprised.

Soon after things hit the fan, Governor McDonnell started to back track.  And the reason was simple – he has national political aspirations and could not afford to because a late night television joke.  In essence, he had to admit that he and his fellow pro-lifers hadn’t thought the bill through and so they will now pass something less drastic.

This whole process (or lack thereof) is yet another example of why politicians should not be involved in this issue.  They’re out there trying to score political points, not understanding that they are actually affecting the lives of women.  But there’s another disturbing issue – and that is that this is yet another example of how the pro-choice groups still don’t seem to be communicating well with the actual abortion clinics.  The day the bill was introduced, didn’t anyone think about picking up the phone to ask a local clinic how it would impact on them?   It doesn’t sound like that happened because, if they had talked to the clinic, the doctor or nurse could have easily told them how ultrasounds work.

It’s sad to think that we have John Stewart and the folks at SNL to thank for defeating this legislation.

Ken Cuccinelli Abortion

Ken Cuccinelli Abortion

A few days ago, Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli (“the Cooch”), said in a legal opinion that the state’s Board of Health could “regulate” abortion clinics.  In response, the local pro-choice folks claimed that such action could close 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics.

The first bit of info that is missing here is that abortion clinics are already subject to a number of regulations on the state, federal and local level.  I mean, after all, they are MEDICAL facilities, aren’t they?  Does the Cooch think that their doctors don’t have licenses, that there is fetus blood all over the floors, that they do not use sterilized instruments?   Has he never heard of OSHA, CLIA, HIPPA and the other acronyms that mean nothing to me but strike fear in the heart of any medical office?

The second thing is:  what makes him think that abortion clinics need more regulations?   Has there suddenly been a series of deaths in the abortion clinics?   Are hundreds of women calling to complain about unsanitary conditions at these facilities?  Of course not.  To the contrary – abortion remains one of the simplest, hence, safest medical procedures available in this country.

The third thing that hits me is:   Has the Cooch ever been in an abortion clinic?  Has he ever toured one of the four abortion clinics that are right around the corner from his office in Richmond?   Does he even know how abortion clinics operate?  Of course, the answer is no.

What the Cooch and his allies are attempting to do is to close down abortion clinics, pure and simple.  Years ago, in South Carolina the state passed a number of regulations that basically required that abortion clinics be regulated as hospitals.  They required the clinics to widen their hallways.  They said the thermostat had to be set at a certain temperature.  They even required the clinic to control the insect population on the lawn.  I kid you not.  It was absolutely absurd.  As a result, two clinics that could not afford to make those very expensive changes went out of business.

That’s what the Cooch is trying to do in ole Virginny.   He is anti-abortion and this is just a sneaky way of pushing his anti-abortion agenda.  It has nothing to do with enhancing the safety of abortion or protecting women’s health.  This message is very confusing to me – he wants to outlaw abortion but he “cares” about the women and wants to make sure that they are getting the best abortion treatment.  That’s totally screwy.

On the other hand….yes, there’s always another hand.

The pro-choice groups are apoplectic.  Oh my God, they’re gonna close all of these clinics!   Women will not be able to get abortions.  Please join us in fighting the Cooch and, by the way, please send us a million dollars today so we can save women’s reproductive rights.

Okay, my fellow pro-choicers, calm down.

The fact is that the Cooch’s legal opinion says that the Virginia Board of Health could impose additional restrictions.  It’s all up to them.  They can take the Cooch’s cue and say thanks very much, but I got better things to do.  Or they could try to determine if there are actually some constructive new regulations that might benefit women.   We just don’t know what they’ll do.  Indeed, some observers of the Board are suggesting that the majority of its members will do nothing because they were appointed by the former pro-choice Democratic governor.

We’ll have to watch things closely, of course, and we appreciate local pro-choice organizations like Virginia NARAL.  Meanwhile, however, if I ran a clinic in Virginia, I’d be writing a letter to the Board of Health inviting them to visit my clinic so they can see how great my facility is.   I would tell them that if they have any constructive suggestions then of course I’d consider them, but I will oppose anything that is mere harassment.  Here’s a chance for abortion clinics in the state to take the high road and to remind everyone that they are upstanding medical facilities and not “back alley” abortion clinics.