Does Romney Live Up to the Culture of Life? Part 2


In part one, I discussed unjust war, assassination, torture and the death penalty and how Mitt Romney has failed to live up to the culture of life on every one of those issues. In this second part I will cover euthanasia, abortion, contraception and gay marriage:

Euthanasia

Unlike many of his fellow Republicans, Romney has been startlingly silent on the issues of euthanasia and assisted-suicide. However, while Romney has failed to make any categorical statement regarding his stance on euthanasia and assisted-suicide what is known is that Mitt Romney made a statement that the government should not have tried to stop Terri Schiavo’s euthanasia and that the courts should “make the family make a decision.”The “family” in this case that Romney was referring to was Terri Schiavo’s husband who, during her coma, had two children with another woman and demanded that the doctors let Terri die by slowly starving her of food and water.

The only other time at which Romney seems to have come out on this issue is in the case of Haleigh Poutre, in which Romney’s Department of Social Services petitioned the courts to pull the then-11-year-old girl off life support. Mitt Romney remained silent on the issue until after the Poutre case received national attention and the young girl began to respond, at which point Romney put together an independent panel to look into the matter. It suggested changes for how the state handles such cases including more closely investigating requests to remove life support.

In light of these two scenarios, it seems that Romney has no qualms about allowing euthanasia and assisted-suicide if its what family members want or the courts rule in favor of such action. If, however, there is sufficient political pressure as in the high-profile case of Haleigh Poutre who was already beginning to respond on her own, then we can expect Romney to oppose euthanasia.

Ultimately, if my life were in Romney’s hands my mind would not be put at ease.

Abortion

Abortion is possibly the most emotional and controversial issue facing our country today and, given Romney’s history of bending with the wind, doing whatever is most politically expedient and never taking a firm stance on anything (at least, not for longer an election cycle), we can expect Romney to do absolutely nothing in defense of the unborn.

During his 1994 Senate Run, Mitt Romney argued that he was more pro-choice than Ted Kennedy: “When Kennedy called him ‘multiple choice,’ Romney demanded an extra rebuttal. He revealed that a close relative died of an illegal abortion years ago and said, ‘Since that time, my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that.’” (Joan Vennochi, “Romney’s Revolving World,” The Boston Globe, 3/2/06). “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.” (Joan Vennochi, “Romney’s Revolving World,” The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)

 When he went to conservative Utah, Romney refused to take a firm stance on the issue, “When I am asked if I am pro-choice or pro-life, I say I refuse to accept either label.” (Glen Warchol, “This Is The Place, But Politics May Lead Romneys Elsewhere,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 2/14/99).
But when he ran for office in Massachusetts again, he was pro-choice again, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.” (2002 Romney-O’Brien Gubernatorial Debate, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, 10/29/02). In 2002, Romney Offered His Completed NARAL Questionnaire, Filled Out With “Mostly Abortion-Rights Positions,” To The Media Even Before Returning It To NARAL. “Yesterday, Romney also aimed to head off confusion about his stance on abortion rights by answering a Mass National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League questionnaire with mostly abortion-rights positions. He offered the questionnaire to the press even before he returned it to MassNARAL…”

Then he started thinking of national office as a Republican. That’s when he claims to have had his conversion. ”Romney said he had a change of heart on the issue after speaking with a stem-cell researcher, Dr. Douglas Melton. Romney claims Melton said  ‘Look, you don’t have to think about this stem cell research as a moral issue, because we kill the embryos after 14 days.’‘It hit me very hard that we had so cheapened the value of human life in a Roe v. Wade environment that it was important to stand for the dignity of human life,’ Romney says.” (Karen Tumulty, “What Romney Believes,” Time, 5/21/07)

Keep in mind, however, that after his pro-life conversion he appointed pro-abortion judges, stated that he will “maintain the status quo” regarding abortion laws, attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 2004 despite his claims to de-fund the organization, and invested in two different companies involved in embryonic stem cell research – all of this occurring after his publicly recognized the sanctity of life and personhood of every unborn child.

And less than a month ago lifesitenews.com reported the following:

MIAMI, FLORIDA, May 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney scheduled a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser at the home of Phil Frost, the executive of the company that makes the Morning After Pill, on Wednesday night. Plan B One-Step is produced by Teva Pharmaceuticals, Frost’s company.

Additionally, Romney has provided for tax-payer funded abortions in RomneyCare, including a mandate and tax payer funded abortion on demand. Romney enforced a law that required Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. Obama’s recent health care mandate that forces religious institutions to violate their conscience is trampling on America’s most sacred right, The Freedom of Religion. But before Obama discarded the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Mitt Romney had done it in Massachusetts, forcing Catholic hospitals to give out abortion causing pills.

Romney remains pro-abortion in the cases of incest, rape and in saving the life of the mother, stating, “I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view.”

Contraception

On July 25th, 2005 Romney vetoed bill to ensure emergency contraception for rape victims, known as the morning after pill. Arguing that the hormone drugs “would also terminate life after conception.” However, on December 8th, 2005 Romney reversed that decision on the advise of his counsel and ordered all hospitals in the state to make the “morning after” pill available to rape victims, over the protests of Catholic hospitals, who argued that this went against their religious beliefs. A Boston Herald editorial said that Romney had “executed an Olympic-caliber double flip-flop with a gold medal-performance twist-and-a-half on the issue of emergency contraception.”

On October 5th, 2005 Boston Globe reports that Romney had signed a bill seeking federal waiver to expand the number of low-income people eligible for family planning services, including the morning-after pill, over protests of pro-life activists. “The guy’s not coming around,” said Joseph M. Scheidler, the national director of the Pro-Life Action League. The action appears to contradict Romney’s June 18, 2007 claim that “I came down on the side of life” in every decision he made as governor of Massachusetts. See video here.

Inadvertently or not, when asked if he supported the Blunt Amendment, a Republican bill that would exempt Catholic and other religious-backed hospitals and schools from a White House rule requiring them to provide free birth control insurance coverage, Mr Romney said he did not.

“I’m not for the bill,” Mr Romney told an interviewer while campaigning in the crucial swing state of Ohio. “The idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”

An hour later campaign officials said that Romney had “misunderstood” and was in favor of the amendment. In response to the HHS mandate that would require Catholic employers to provide insurance that covers, not just contraception, but sterilization and abortifacients as well, Romney stated, “This kind of assault on religion will end if I’m president of the United States,” Romney said, calling it “a real blow … to our friends in the Catholic faith.” However, Romney was largely silent about the Massachusetts law, which essentially mirrored Obama’s proposal and was signed by Romney’s predecessor in 2002, the year before he took office, that required virtually the same contraceptive coverage. Romney did not seek its repeal.

Gay Marriage

Romney favors “domestic relationships” for gay couples and states that it is a state issue and that he “did nothing to change it” as governor of Massachusetts. However, he has also chosen to nationalize the issue by calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. If the ban does not apply to civil unions, it will not stop states from allowing legal arrangements “identical to marriage” but for the name, which Romney says he opposes. But if the federal government tries to prevent those, states won’t really be free to “make decisions with regard to domestic partnership benefits,” the approach he says he favors.

Either way, Romney is against gay marriage. But when pressured to take a stand what can we expect from a Romney presidency? He seems to pride himself for sitting on his hands regarding Massachusetts’ gay marriage laws and Romney displays that same passivity regarding religious freedom and gay privileges:

In 2006 the Archdiocese of Boston stated that it would no longer place children with homosexual couples (as the Church considers homosexuality “gravely immoral”). A media storm quickly followed. Responding to charges that it was illegally discriminating against homosexuals, the Archdiocese then asked the state to grant a religious exemption to Catholic Charities, but the Legislature balked. Existing Massachusetts non-discrimination laws referencing “sexual orientation” plus “legal gay marriage” would not allow the Church to follow its moral precepts, it was claimed.

Romney erroneously blamed the Church’s predicament on non-existent law and could have rescinded the administrative regulations that would not let Catholic Charities deny placement of children with homosexual couples. Romney also failed to point out that religious freedom was already protected in both the state and federal constitutions. The Archdiocese could have fought this in court but did not — perhaps out of fear of losing major donors with liberal views (who were well represented on Catholic Charities’ board). In the end, the homosexual activists and their allies got their way, and it was another public whipping for the Catholic Church — all of which Romney could have prevented.

According to C. J. Doyle, head of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts:

The opponents of religious freedom never start by assaulting the right to worship, frontally, to assault the right to worship on Sunday morning. They start by trying to marginalize the charitable, restrict the charitable and the educational and the social service activities of churches, and try to narrow the parameters of religious liberty. This is what we’re seeing here in Massachusetts

Apparently, though, Romney didn’t think that the restriction of Catholic charities and the violation of religious freedom that it represented was worth getting involved over.

Romney’s response to all of this? I’m consistent on gay marriage “since running for office”. But with the increasing number of cases of the gay movement and government bullying people to not simply tolerate, but embrace, the homosexual lifestyle at the expense of their freedom of conscience Romney cannot simply stand by and do nothing as he has in the past.

Conclusion

 Mitt Romney continues his poor performance upholding the culture of life in this second part, remaining largely silent on the issue of euthanasia and opposing it only in the case of significant political pressure; he is uncommitted on the issue of abortion, frequently undermining the cause for life and favoring abortion in special cases; he also continued to expand funding and availability of the morning-after-pill after his pro-life conversion, even forcing Catholic hospitals to provide the abortifacient against their consciences; finally, while Romney opposes the re-definition of marriage he does not consider the issue worth sticking his neck out over even when religious liberties are on the line.

To compare and contrast Romney with Obama on all eight issues, on the death penalty, torture and on euthanasia I rate him just as bad as Obama while on the issue of assassination, gay marriage, contraception and abortion I rate him only slightly better. On the issue of unjust war Romney has made it clear that he endorses a foreign policy even more aggressive than Obama’s own and therefore actually rates worse than Obama.

Ultimately, Mitt Romney’s agenda has been on the side of the culture of death on every single issue at one point or another in his political career and he has yet to make an unqualified switch to the culture of life on even one of these issues. Therefore, overall I rate a Romney presidency practically as destructive as Obama’s regarding life-issues. Its incredibly sad that the Susan B. Anthony List and other pro-life groups have endorsed Romney and promised millions to his campaign despite his extensive record of cooperating with the culture of death and his refusal to sign the Susan B. Anthony List’s pledge promising to defend life and promote the pro-life cause. With the percentage of pro-life Americans at an historic high, with 23% of Americans opposing abortion under all circumstances and 51% self-identifying as pro-life, there is absolutely no reason why such a massive demographic should settle for a presidential candidate predominantly in cooperation with the culture of death over one that almost categorically does. Whether Romney or Obama secures power in November, the life movement loses. But by simply voting our consciences and holding out for true pro-life candidates, while we may lose the battle, we will be in a better position for the future to win this war.

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Combating the Death Mentality: More than just Abortion


The purpose of this post is to address a hypocrisy engaged in by many self-described pro-lifers. I previously wrote about the culture of life here and I highly recommend reading that post before proceeding with this one.

Pope John Paul II was the first to use the phrase the “culture of life” in a World Youth Day tour of the United States in 1993. The Pope stated that “The culture of life means respect for nature and protection of God’s work of creation. In a special way, it means respect for human life from the first moment of conception until its natural end.” He wrote extensively on the culture of life, including in his encyclical Evangelium vitae or “the Gospel of Life.”

In the minds of many, the American pro-life movement and the culture of life are synonymous and, while they do share much in common they are not one and the same. “Pro-life” in its decades long use has historically been much narrower in its definition than what is referred to by the culture of life, referring predominantly to opposition to abortion while the culture of life addresses a wide range of issues (additionally, the culture of life is more than a mere political movement but a way of life meant for all of society). Many self-described “pro-lifers,” while adamant in their defense of the unborn, are willing to compromise on, or even emphatically embrace, issues like our aggressive military interventionism abroad, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the death penalty. However, all of these issues, and others, are contrary to the culture of life. Many liberals have been quick to point out this hypocrisy among the pro-life movement and they are absolutely right in doing so – in fact, it is the number one complaint I hear from liberals regarding the pro-life movement and one of the few legitimate ones. To support any politician or policy that would sacrifice the human dignity and lives of others in the name of combating abortion is to support a culture compromised. While we can distinguish between life-issues, they have one universal root: the real issue, which is our culture’s disregard for life. Abortion is a symptom, a devastating consequence of our twisted perception of humanity and only by defending every life-issue and having the courage to stand as an advocate for all of the weak, born and unborn, can we expect to effect change. In Evangelium vitae Blessed John Paul II affirms the need to be unconditional in our defense of human life and dignity and support a culture of life. Never did he suggest a need to fight abortion at all costs, but instead calls us to defend all life-issues:

This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.

Additionally, to understand what the culture of life is and to recognize when pro-lifers stray from that culture  we must know what it is not. Monsignor Charles Pope. summarizes what the antithesis of the culture of life, the culture of death, looks like:

We have discussed the “culture of death” numerous times before on this blog. This description of Western Culture was used by Pope John Paul II. Fundamentally it refers to the fact that in the modern, western world, especially America death is increasingly seen as a “solution” to problems. Has a child come along at an inconvenient time? Perhaps the baby has been diagnosed with defects perhaps there is some other wrenching problem regarding the pregnancy such as the poverty of the mother. The solution? Abort the baby. Has a criminal committed heinous acts? Kill him through capital punishment. Is an elderly or sick person suffering from a reduced quality of life? Perhaps they are bedridden or experiencing the pains of the dying process. Solution? Euthanize them. Does raising children and dealing with a larger family cause hardships: economic and emotional? Do children cause stress? Simple, contracept so that they don’t exist in the first place. So you see, the death or non-existence of human beings is increasingly the “solution” to problems and this is what is meant by the “culture of death.”

Unfortunately, many conservatives cannot bring themselves to let go of the notion that the death, non-existence or suffering of certain human beings is the “solution” to their problems. Instead, they argue until they’re blue in the face that the lives of hundreds of thousands are expendable if America is threatened (they’re not), preemptive strikes are not unjust (they are), that waterboarding isn’t really torture (hint, it is) and that assassination of unarmed men via car-bombs constitutes “self-defense”. These issues are inseparable from abortion because they all stem form the same mentality: that human life is expendable, that killing and inflicting more pain and suffering is the answer to all our problems. The only way to promote a culture of life, and therefore to be truly pro-life, is not to “just focus on abortion” so as to not “divide our attention” but to stop the culture of death at its root: the mentality of death that underlies each and every one of these issues.

Many pro-lifers don’t fervently defend these immoral actions, however. Many haven’t really given it a lot of thought. But that too has its own dangers. Many pro-lifers have spent years educating themselves on abortion and passionately fighting against it but they have been intellectually lazy when it comes to other life-issues. They are sickened by their own government which, to date, has endorsed the murder of over 52 million unborn Americans but think it improbable that our government would torture or ever be the villain in a war; we’re the good guys and we don’t do that. Besides, those issues aren’t as “important” so why bother finding out? In response to the lukewarm pro-lifer (though fervent on abortion they may be) I ask one simple question: if our government is so corrupt and evil that it freely endorses the murder of defenseless, unborn children by the millions, at the will of their own mothers, and you recognize this, then is not such a government also capable of committing other heinous acts like unjust invasion and occupation of other countries, assassinations, torture and more? In fact, isn’t it probable that such atrocities are happening – right now? We already recognize other areas where our government bows to the culture of death in euthanasia and the death penalty and, while we blame the Democrats on the left for abortion and euthanasia we must also recognize the culture of death present on the right: unjust war, assassination, torture and the death penalty. The Culture of Life is not partisan; these are not Democrat issues or Republican issues, these are American issues – but even on a grander scale, these are global issues and Catholic issues and we must act and vote first as Catholics and as a part of the same Body of Christ and, only following that, as Americans.