Over the course of two election cycles I’ve expressed extreme discomfort at the idea of a Mitt Romney presidency. I have a lot of, to me anyway, good reasons. Boiled down to two, though, the are 1) a lack of evidence that he would govern in a way that can be distinguished from Barack Obama in the key areas of judicial appointments and controlling the regulatory impulses of federal agencies and 2) that the man has no compunction about lying about anything. For heaven sakes, he may be the first president in history, and certainly the only in my lifetime, to lie about his own first name.
The last (praise the Lord) debate gave Romney the opportunity to demonstrate both points. I direct you to this exchange (h/t to Boston Catholic Insider):
KING (Moderator): Governor Romney, both Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich have said during your tenure as governor, you required Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
And Mr. Speaker, you compared the governor to President Obama, saying he infringed on Catholics’ rights.
Governor, did you do that?
ROMNEY: No, absolutely not. Of course not.
There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their part. There was no such requirement.”
Let’s take the easy part of this first. Romney states that Archbishop O’Malley voluntarily authorized the distribution to “morning after” pills to rape victims presenting themselves at Catholic hospitals in the archdiocese. He didn’t. No archbishop has done so or will do so. That should be pretty easy to figure out.
This, for those keeping score, is the typical egregious, grotesque, and totally casual lie so familiar to Romney observers.
The governance part is also straight out of the Obama playbook.
Just like Obama, he may personally not like to do something but gosh darn it, that’s just the way it has to be. Obama’s recent actions on forcing religious institutions to provide birth control services to employees regardless of the beliefs of the institution was played out by Romney in Massachusetts.
Read the Boston Catholic Insider article for the blow by blow but the short version follows.
A bill was passed requiring hospitals to dispense the Plan B abortifacient to patients. The bill was passed with the clear intention of retaining an existing law that provided a conscience exemption. In fact, Romney’s own Department of Public Health rendered that decision and Romney agreed.
Dec. 7, 2005: a week before the law was to take effect, the Boston Globe ran an article headlined,
“Private hospitals exempt on pill law“. The article said the state Department of Public Health had determined that the emergency contraception law “does not nullify a statute passed years ago that says privately run hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception.”
“The staff of DPH did their own objective and unbiased legal analysis,” Romney’s spokesman told the Globe. “The brought it to us, and we concur in it.”
On the very next day, after the Boston Globe whined about the decision, Romney’s legal staff overturned the decision.
“On that basis, I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view,” Romney said. “In my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape.”
with the Boston Globe reporting:
“Governor Mitt Romney reversed course on the state’s new emergency contraception law yesterday, saying that all hospitals in the state will be obligated to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims. The decision overturns a ruling made public this week by the state Department of Public Health that privately run hospitals could opt out of the requirement if they objected on moral or religious grounds.”
Let’s be clear what happened here. The Democrat controlled Massachusetts House and Senate passed the law with the intent of leaving previous conscience exemptions in place. Based on legislative analysis, the state Department of Public Health declared that to be their interpretation also. The abortion industry and the Boston Globe whined. Mitt Romney, personally, overrode the conscience provision because “[i]n my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape.”
It is hard to see how conservatives can criticize Barack Obama for his decision that his personal desire to provide birth control outweighs any possible objection on the basis of conscience when Mitt Romney says he believes exactly the same thing.