Is Mitt Romney’s “moderation” a fairy-tale?


Absolutely! The “personhood” amendment is about as extremist as it could be, but Romney is for it.

I keep hoping Republican opposition to reproductive freedom will eventually catch up with them. Who knows?  2012 could be the year.



Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

17 thoughts on “Is Mitt Romney’s “moderation” a fairy-tale?”

  1. Suggested amendment wording:

    The constitutional right of a rapist to procreate, on whomsoever he may sperm, shall not be abridged.

  2. You have a point, in a funny sort of way.

    Romney really isn’t for or against anything, AFAICT. Still, hge seems just as willing to cater to anti-abortion extremists in pursuit of theGOP nomination as he was to describe himself as pro-choice when he ran for MA governor.

    1. “Romney really isn’t for or against anything, AFAICT. Still, hge seems just as willing to cater to anti-abortion extremists in pursuit of theGOP nomination as he was to describe himself as pro-choice when he ran for MA governor.”

      I don’t know why people don’t understand this – Romney has demonstrated that he’ll say and do whatever it takes to get elected. Once elected (and if so, with a GOP Congress, and Dem Senators who suddenly discover submission to the Commander in Chief), he’ll do whatever makes his life easier. Catering to the base does that, and makes the looting much easier.

      We just had an example where a pack of GOP governors were elected, and immediately pulled out extreme right wing wishlists, and carried them out to the limits of their ability. Even when that meant (likely) sacrificing second terms.

  3. With 56% of precincts reporting, the Mississippi personhood ballot measure is being defeated by a margin of 57% to 43%. With the Republican winning the race for governor by a margin of 62% to 38%, it would appear that this extreme a measure was not popular even with the GOP majority in the state.

    Tomorrow, we will see if Romney is back to saying that the family must make these difficult choices without government interference.

  4. Only liberals can spin murder into “reproductive freedom.” Extreme? Please. Why aren’t we calling it extreme that over 1.2 million babies are aborted each year in this country, of which more than 90% of the time it is for convenience reasons rather than for health concerns or as a result of rape. Would the “personhood” amendment go further than anything I’ve ever heard come out of a liberal’s mouth to promote a culture of life? Absolutely!

    1. Bux, didn’t we have this debate before and you bailed out of it?

      Let’s be clear: I don’t think that the personhood amendment does anything to promote a culture of life. At best, it encodes recent Catholic doctrine into law. No other major religion that I can think of, including much of the rest of Christianity, or even Catholic doctrine a few centuries ago, actually has a notion of life beginning at conception; there’s of course the biblical commandment to procreate, but that’s something different.

      De facto, criminalizing abortion (which is what the amendment aims at) tends to mostly drive abortion underground (or, in the case of Ireland, overseas). With almost as many unborn children and a lot more women getting killed in the process. If there’s anything that has ever actually promoted a “culture of life” it is societies where it is easy, safe, and desirable to have a baby.

      America is not such a society; one would not be far afield to say that America hates babies and America hates parents (hyperbole for effect), hypocritical and empty claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Having a baby in the United States can ruin your life. If it does, and you are dependent on welfare as a consequence, people will look down on you as a welfare queen (thank you, Ronald Reagan).

      But almost all the hardcore pro-lifers I know of are unwilling to pony up even a single additional tax dollar to make sure that having a baby is not a personal disaster; their desire to control the lives of other people is only matched by their personal avarice.

      And on top of that, the “personhood amendment” seems to also aim at also prohibiting contraception. The mind boggles at that, really. Do these people really want more teen pregnancies?

      Now, personally, I don’t think that human life begins only at birth; neither do I think that it begins at conception; and there’s plenty of room for argument about the beginning of life (since there’s no scientific, objective definition of human life) for something in between. I am also all for measures that actually protect unborn babies from needless abortions; pointless, ineffective, religion-inspired grandstanding does not qualify, though.

      I am, incidentally, also not a fan of the term pro-choice; like pro-life, it is a term that seems to be meaningless in terms of actual policy but exists to stake out a political position as far out as possible to prevent it from being eroded in the political process. But to be blunt, unless there’s no consent or no informed consent (rape, minors), you made your choice when you had sex. Now, you may get pregnant despite using contraception (I got pregnant with my first daughter while on the pill myself), so it’s not necessarily your fault, and there may be a number of reasons (especially medical) to have an abortion even if it was a planned pregnancy.

      As a result, I’m all in favor of a sensible abortion policy in conjunction with a public policy that makes it actually easy for people to have and raise children and minimizes unwanted pregnancies (like, contraception paid for by health insurance, as in the PPACA). But that’s not pro-choice, not based on the assumption that there’s a legal right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy at will; it’s rather about trying to solve a really complex ethical problem with a system where it can be expected that parents’ preferences will fairly closely track the best (or least bad) solutions to that problem (which does not rule out the creation of criminal norms for clear-cut cases, either, or reasonable rules about getting informed advice before an abortion).

      1. I’ve always wondered what the “personhood” thing was supposed to accomplish anyway, other than stand as a sign of craziness and misogyny. Mississippi is one of those states, after all, where you can kill a trespasser on your lawn if you think they’re threatening you.

    2. Bux, do you consider in vitro fertilization murder? Or do you consider the desire to have children a mere matter of convenience?

        1. Then either you don’t know much about IVF, or you’re wildly inconsistent in your views.

    3. To add to what I said above: If you look at first world countries with actually low abortion rates (not counting those that pretend to have low/zero rates, but just export them to neighboring countries, such as Ireland or Poland), they all share some common characteristics:

      (1) Easy access to contraception. Including teenagers. Especially for teenagers.
      (2) Proper sex education.
      (3) Strong laws that protect pregnant women and mothers (and, ideally, fathers, too) in the workplace.
      (4) Support for families who have children.
      (5) Legal, safe, and accessible first-trimester abortions after a short waiting period or a required consultation.
      (6) Legal, safe, and accessible post first-trimester abortions where there is a cause (rape, medical indications).

  5. “With the Republican winning the race for governor by a margin of 62% to 38%, it would appear that this extreme a measure was not popular even with the GOP majority in the state.”

    Hey, why do you think Romney felt comfortable ‘supporting’ it? He knew ‘supporting’ it wouldn’t mean anything. It’s a fairly common dynamic among RINOs: Pick some conservative cause to ‘back’ to prove to the rubes you’re on their side, but be sure it’s a losing conservative cause, and you don’t change that.

    After ’94 a lot of fake ‘conservatives’ were exposed, because they suddenly had to make sure themselves the things they’d been ‘supporting’ all along were defeated…

    It wasn’t a bad night for conservatives in Mississippi; Both the voter ID and anti-Kelo initiatives passed.

    1. I don’t think strengthening the rights of individuals against eminent domain takings is a particularly conservative cause. In fact, Haley Barbour has been one of the most outspoken critics of Initiative 31.

  6. No, Mitt is not a moderate. He is not an extremist. Mitt Romney is a human Etch-A-Sketch. If you don’t like the face he is displaying, he’ll erase it and draw you a new one.

  7. Much of the debate in Mississippi over the personhood measure seems to have focused on in vitro fertilization and on some common birth control methods which would be threatened by its passage into law. A Christian mother whose small children were conceived through IVF was featured in one of the stories on opposition to the proposed law.

    However, there is another problem for advocates of the idea that every fertilized ovum is legally a human being. This is the high rate of early embryo loss. I am not talking about miscarriage, which runs about 15% of clinically recognized pregnancies (less frequent in younger women, more frequent with increasing maternal age). I am referring to the percentage of fertilized ova which result in a term pregnancy. Estimates of this percentage are difficult to come up with, since these embryo losses do not result in a missed period and go unrecognized. Estimates can be based on fecundity rates (defined as the probability of producing a viable term newborn per menstrual cycle in which there was normal sexual activity). Data from several decades and several populations indicates that this rate rarely exceeds 35% or so even under ideal conditions. The male factor accounts for some of the infecundity, and this should not be interpreted to mean that 65% of fertilizations fail to go to term.

    Other technologies, including human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), have made the diagnosis of pregnancy possible before the first missed period. HCG will not be detected, however, until the end of the first week after fertilization, so that it cannot be used to identify preimplantation failure.

    Recent reviews of the issue estimate that the majority of fertilized ova do not produce viable offspring; early pregnancy wastage is on the order of 50% or greater. I am not aware of whether this observation figured into the debate in Mississippi.

    As the author of a recent review points out, biological facts alone cannot resolve ethical issues relating to the beginning of life, but no correct answer can be given if biological facts are discounted or ignored. In one sense, it is trivially obvious that we all began as fertilized ova (although Athena did spring full-formed out of the head of Zeus, she is the exception and not the rule). Every human being was once a fertilized ovum. That is a given. The converse, that every fertilized ovum is a human being, is a logical fallacy, and is strongly challenged by the data concerning pregnancy loss under natural conditions. This presents a real problem for Bux and other advocates of legal personhood for all fertilized ova.

Comments are closed.