Friday morning four Republican 2008 presidential candidates addressed the second day of the annual National Right to Life Convention (NRLC) in Kansas City, Missouri.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney attempted to dispel his reputation of flip-flopping on abortion. He discussed his conversion to the anti-abortion cause, which he credits to debate in 2004 over stem cell research and human cloning. From the Associated Press:
"My experience as governor taught me firsthand that the threat to our culture is real," Romney said. "When responsibility for life or ending life was placed in my hands, I made the right decision."
Joining the infighting, Senator Sam Brownback emphasized Romney's changing positions on abortion and questioned his conversion. Despite low numbers in the polls, Brownback was greeted warmly at the conference as he touted his consistently extreme position against reproductive rights.
Representatives Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter also spoke during the convention forum today.
Yesterday, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson (whose reproductive health positions are even more extreme than President Bush) addressed the NRLC via video (emphasis mine):
In 1994, I made my first run for the U.S. Senate. I was proud to receive the National Right to Life endorsement. I've been with you ever since. You've been with me ever since. On abortion related votes I've been 100 percent. We've had a lot of different kind of issues come up in the Senate from federal funding to stem cell research, Roe versus Wade and the partial birth abortion debate or as former Senator Pat Moynihan of New York used to say it's more like infanticide than partial birth abortion.
Thompson has not announced intentions to run for president in 2008.
With the refusal of the NRLC to take a position on birth control, NARAL issued five questions (PDF) for Romney and Brownback as they prepared to address the conference:
1. You support overturning Roe v. Wade. Doesn't that mean you support government interference in personal, private medical decisions that should be made between a woman, her family, and her doctor?
2. If you believe abortion should be outlawed and that doctors who provide abortion care should face criminal charges, then do you also believe women should be sent to prison for terminating a pregnancy?
3. Ninety–nine percent of Americans believe it is appropriate for young people to have information about STDs, and 94 percent of Americans think it is appropriate to teach young people about birth control. Do you support honest, realistic, age–appropriate sex education?
4. Do you think it's okay for a pharmacy to refuse to fill a woman's prescription for birth control based on an employee's personal views against contraception?
5. Do you believe hospital emergency rooms should be allowed to withhold information from a rape survivor about emergency contraception—which can prevent a pregnancy if taken soon after the assault?
If these extreme candidates want to reduce abortion, they should support effective prevention methods such as comprehensive sexuality education, emergency contraception, family planning and support for pregnant women, children and families.