Mitt Romney: 'I am pro-life'
Saying that because the "morning-after pill" is an abortifacient rather than just a contraceptive, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney vetoed a bill that would allow some pharmacists to dispense it without a prescription and require hospitals to offer it to rape victims.
"Signing such a measure into law would violate the promise I made to the citizens of Massachusetts when I ran for governor," Romney says in a Boston Globeop-ed piece today. "I pledged that I would not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it. I have spoken with medical professionals to determine whether the drug contemplated under the bill would simply prevent conception or whether it would also terminate a living embryo after conception. Once it became clear that the latter was the case, my decision was straightforward."
The decision won't have much practical effect. As The Boston Globe states, "It almost certainly will become law despite Romney's rejection; both the House and Senate approved it by veto-proof margins, and legislative leaders said they plan to override his veto."
But it does have personal and political effect for Romney. Much is being made of his description of how his prolife convictions, as he says, "evolved and deepened during [his] time as governor." In earlier years, Romney has supported "the substance" of Roe v. Wade, and as late as a 2002 speech to Republicans, stated, "I respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose. That choice is a deeply personal one, and the women of our state should make it based on their beliefs, not mine and not the government's."
Now, Romney says, "I am pro-life. 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. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate. Because Massachusetts is decidedly pro-choice, I have respected the state's democratically held view. I have not attempted to impose my own views on the pro-choice majority."
It was the stem-cell debate that changed Romney's mind, he says. Political opponents have claimed he changed to curry favor with religious conservatives as he considers a run for the presidency in 2008.
Contraception: the ancient-future culture-war front?
Romney says that his beef is with abortion, not contraception. "If [the morning-after pill] only dealt with contraception, I wouldn't have a problem with it," he told The New York Times. "But it also in some cases terminates life after conception, and therefore it ceases to be a contraceptive pill. It becomes an abortion pill." (A Boston Heraldeditorial disagrees.)
But the Romney decision and explanation open the door to talking about contraception. After all, the morning after pill is essentially just a high dose of the same hormones in normal oral contraceptives ("the pill"). Whether normal oral contraceptives work as abortifacients (that is, whether they prevent implantation as well as preventing fertilization) has been a matter of some debate. But it's a debate that we may be about to see break open in the evangelical Protestant community.
First, we're seeing Protestant publishers talk more about the ethics of contraception. Baker published Jenell Williams Paris's Birth Control for Christians in 2003; now Zondervan recently released The Contraception Guidebook with the Christian Medical Associations. Neither took a hard line against the pill (The Contraception Guidebook, not surprisingly, echoes the CMA's statement on the subject), but the fact that evangelicals are even talking about possible post-fertilization effects of hormonal birth control is significant. (Christianity Today in 2001 published differing perspectives on birth control but takes no editorial position on the pill. The next issue of Christianity Today includes an article, "Why I Kissed the Pill Goodbye.")
We're also seeing the Protestant political and legal groups talking a lot more about birth control. They have adamantly defended of Catholic pharmacists who refused to fill birth-control prescriptions in a way that they have not defended other stances of conscience they do not themselves share. And lately, frustration about judicial activism has focused a lot less on 1973's Roe v. Wade and a lot more on 1965's Griswold v. Connecticut, which threw out a Connecticut law banning contraceptives. (Search the websites of Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and elsewhere.)
Might evangelical Protestants move from opposing high doses of what's in oral contraceptives to opposing oral contraceptives altogether? The jury is definitively out. But there are early signs of change. A new conception of the pill may be implanting.
- Cloning plan poses new ethical dilemma | Scientist courts controversy with call for women to donate eggs (The Guardian, London)
- The organ factory: It takes a vivo | Part 2 of a series (William Saletan, Slate)
Democrats seek pro-life voters:
- Democrats seek nuance on abortion | Reid and Pelosi are pressing party Dean to establish an official relationship with Democrats for Life, which the Democratic National Committee has previously shunned (The Hill)
- Dean urges Dems to court pro-life voters | Democrats need to reach out to voters who oppose abortion rights and promote candidates who share that view, the head of the party said Friday (Associated Press)
- A shift in antiabortion strategy? | After years of arguing that Roe is a life or death issue, antiabortion activists are beginning to argue that Roe isn't the real issue (Dante Chinni, The Christian Science Monitor)
- Groups paint picture of a post-Roe landscape | States would decide fate of abortion laws (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
- A religious freedom case could reveal a lot about where Roberts falls | Gonzales vs. O Centro Espirita pits religious conservatives against law-and-order conservatives (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)
- Counting Catholics | Roberts would give members of his church a plurality on the Supreme Court, but no one is making a big deal about ityet (Michael McGough, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Weiner says he would increase ties with religious groups | Chastising Democrats for failing to build relationships with religious groups, Anthony D. Weiner, a Democratic candidate for mayor, said yesterday that if elected he would increase the role of "faith-based" organizations in providing city services (The New York Times)
- We need to reach across the ideological divide | These days it seems that public debate has little to do with persuading opponents and almost everything to do with solidifying the base of our supporters (Don Argue, The Seattle Times)
- Bush to seek more funding for faith-based charities | He tells black leaders that he will pressure corporate foundations to adjust their policies (Los Angeles Times)
- Bush to hold summit on giving to charities | Bush announced the summit as he met behind closed doors with 17 leaders of black churches and community groups (Associated Press)
- Inmates shown path to religion | New volunteer faith programs unveiled (The Indianapolis Star)
Church & state:
- Group denies filing complaint to IRS | Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Monday that it was not the source of an unsuccessful complaint to the Internal Revenue Service regarding the Rev. Jerry Falwell (The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.)
- Keeping the flag and religion separate | A church sanctuary is a place for the worship of God. The country is not God (Joel Connelly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- One nation, but so many different ideas about God under the same God | Carol des Lauriers Cieri reviews Noah Feldman's Divided by God (The Christian Science Monitor)
- A straight perspective | Do heterosexuals have a role in the increasingly politicized battle for gay rights? (Newsweek)
- Following Canada | Canada's legalization of gay marriage follows the inevitable shift among democracies to grant civil rights to all citizens (Editorial, The Seattle Times)
- Catholics are least anti-gay, says study | The Australia Institute study, Mapping Homophobia in Australia, shows two-thirds of Baptists and evangelical Christians believe homosexuality to be immoral. But Catholics, Anglicans and Uniting church members are the most tolerant, with only a third saying homosexuality is immoral. (AAP, Australia)
CofE bans gay marriage blessings, but not civil partnerships for clergy:
- Church struggles with the concept of same-sex partnerships | The Church of England yesterday found itself in the potentially embarrassing position of telling its clergy if they entered civil partnerships they would have to pledge to remain celibate (The Guardian, London)
- 'Marriages' but no sex for gay clergy | The Church of England is to allow gay clergy to enter into civil partnerships but only if they promise to abstain from sex, according to guidance issued yesterday (The Telegraph, London)
- Stop the denial | The Church of England has announced that it will support civil partnerships for gay priests, as long as they don't have sex for the rest of their lives. A practicing priest and homosexual, calls for his superiors to see the error of their ways (Richard Haggis, The Guardian, London)
- Church bans blessings for gay 'newly-weds' | Same-sex couples who "marry" in new civil partnership ceremonies will not be able to receive a Christian service of blessing, the Church of England said (The Guardian, London)
- Church of England bans clergy from blessing gay civil partnerships | British same-sex couples who "marry" via a form of civil partnership beginning later this year will not be able to have their unions blessed by Church of England clergy, bishops ruled (AFP)
- Southern Baptists shun World Alliance meeting | Some Kentuckians traveling to Britain (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
- Lake Avenue Church pastor resigns | Gordon Kirk shocked members of his huge congregation when he resigned last weekend, citing "personal character attacks' and disrespect for his leadership from a vocal minority in the church (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)
- Church says revolution would be bloody | In a sign that the Russian Orthodox Church wants to play a role in national politics, its leading spokesman warned a gathering of pro-Kremlin youth leaders that an Orange Revolution in Russia would bring only bloody chaos (The Moscow Times)
- Exploiting the Right | The desperate National Council of Churches tries to stay in business by attacking Rush Limbaugh and other targets of the MoveOn crowd (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)
- Little flower's buds | At one Catholic church, the path to the altar is crowded with eager young servants (The Washington Post)
- Nine defy Vatican's ban on ordination of women | Nine women in white robes knelt on the deck of a cruise boat Monday in religious ceremonies they say will make them the first female Catholic priests and deacons ordained in North America (The Washington Post)
- Pope's prayer omits Israel, and words fly | Israel and the Vatican traded sharp words over a sermon in which Benedict XVI, prayed that God would stop terrorist attacks in several countries, but omitted attacks against Jews (The New York Times)
- The busy life of a parish priest | How does one priest cope with the day-to-day running of his parish and the up-keep of three medieval churches? (BBC)
- Mahony ordered to release church records | Court affirms ruling that documents dealing with abuse by priests must be disclosed (Los Angeles Times)
- A miracle of modern technology | Parishioners use mobile phones to film 'walking' Virgin (The Times, London)
- Pilgrims flock to see Naples' 'moving' Madonna statue | Thousands of Roman Catholic faithful queued outside a church near Naples yesterday after the congregation reported watching a statue of the Madonna "miraculously" moving in front of them (The Independent, London)
Search for Nairobi bishop's killers:
- Search for the killers of bishop goes to city | One of the nine suspects in custody has been brought to Nairobi to help officers from the special crime prevention unit track down his accomplices (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)
- Police were tipped over bishop killing | The Criminal Investigation Department in Isiolo was tipped of a plot to kill Isiolo Bishop Luigi Locati several weeks before (The East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya)
- O.C. church fires may be tied to others | Three suspicious blazes at an Anaheim church early Monday may be related to two dozen recent fires in the area, officials said (Los Angeles Times)
- After shootings, Mattapan urged to pray | Religious leaders, community reel amid new violence (The Boston Globe)
War & terrorism:
- Who's taking blame for Christian violence? | Interesting, isn't it, that Muslim fanatics use the idea of holy jihad and rewards in paradise to recruit their dupes into terrible acts of destruction, and in Christian circles there is the solemn assembling for prayer and seeking of blessings for the troops and leaders in their mission of war (Calvin White, The Toronto Star)
- If we are to defeat the terrorists, we must learn how to live in fear | Learning to live in vulnerability is not passivity; it is the only healthy response to life. Admitting what we cannot control leads us to a new openness - to God, and to others (Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, The Telegraph, London)
- Muslim leader, Cardinal George call for unity | Cardinal Francis George and Imam W. Deen Mohammed called on Catholics and Muslims in Chicago to unite for the common causes of ending racism and strengthening families (Chicago Tribune)
- Religious leaders meet at Nobel center | Religious leaders from a variety of faiths will meet at the new Nobel Peace Center in Oslo on Monday, in a bid for peace after the recent spate of terrorist attacks (Aftenposten, Oslo)
Evolution & creation:
- 80 years ago, they inherited the wind | More than 60 unpublished photographs taken during the Scopes trial, a seminal event in the debate over evolution and education, have been found (The New York Times)
- Catholic experts urge caution in evolution debate | Scientists, theologians take issue with Schönborn's op-ed article (National Catholic Reporter)
- Hope starts leadership program | It'll be run by Doug Koopman, who left a tenured position at Calvin to start it up (The Grand Rapids Press)
- Abstinence-only program suffers cash crunch | Three-year grant has expired (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
- KOCE sale heads back to courtroom | Judges may schedule new hearings in clash between Daystar, Coast Community College District (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
- Appeals court to review decision on KOCE-TV sale | Judges last month had reversed the deal that put the PBS station in a foundation's hands after a Christian broadcaster made a better offer (Los Angeles Times)
- What will Terrell do? | The Eagles' reluctant receiver is reaching for the sky, invoking Jesus in his contract squabble (Phil Sheridan, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Earlier: Rooting for T.O. | Why Terrell Owens irritates most of us most of the time (Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Feb. 11, 2005)
- Jessica Simpson fires back at Christian critics | "That's why I didn't end up going into the Christian music industry" (WENN)
- Bishop Spong steps up fight against evangelism | Time hasn't mellowed John Shelby Spong (NorthJersey.com)
- Making a slam dunk for Christian fellowship | Bible is playbook for this league (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Money & business:
- Appeal over Sunday work sacking fails | A devout Christian who says he was sacked for refusing to work on Sundays lost the latest round of his legal fight against his former employers yesterday (The Guardian, London)
- The gospel of marketing Jesus | Why are some of the world's biggest companies are teaming up with churches and religious festivals to sell their brand in Christians? (Anderson Cooper 360, CNN)
More articles of interest:
- Keeping members a challenge for LDS church | Mormon myth: The belief that the church is the fastest-growing faith in the world doesn't hold up (The Salt Lake Tribune)
- Hollywood movie role for chapel | Filming of a Hollywood movie based on the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code is to take place at the Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh in September (BBC)
- No ring, no rights | Unmarried heterosexual couples inhabit a legal limbo. Clare Dyer punctures the myth of common law marriage and looks at how cohabitees may be brought in from the cold (The Guardian, London)
- Patterns: Do prayers for the heart patient help? | Prayer from a distance did not significantly improve the outcome for common elective cardiac procedures performed on a group 737 patients, a new study reports? (The New York Times)
- Earlier: Weblog: Study Says the Prayers of Multifaith Strangers Won't Keep You from Dying (July 15)
- Sudan refugees plan, dream of return home | Refugee camps' gradual stirring to life with internally displaced people hoping to return to their once-violent home villages comes as another sign that Africa's longest-running civil war is indeed fading into history (Associated Press)
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