Less than a month after a Mitt Romney super PAC released an ad that grossly mischaracterized Newt Gingrich's stance on abortion rights, Gingrich is firing back with an inaccurate abortion-themed ad of his own. Gingrich's ad, released Tuesday in South Carolina, calls Romney "pro-abortion" and twists a few facts about his record on reproductive rights as governor of Massachusetts.
"What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life?" the female narrator asks. "He governed pro-abortion. Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board."
In fact, after Romney dramatically changed his position on abortion in 2005, he did not "expand access to abortion pills." He vetoed a bill that would have expanded access to the morning-after pill by making it available without a prescription and requiring hospitals to offer it to rape victims. The pill is taken to prevent unplanned pregnancies.
State lawmakers promptly overturned Romney's veto, which the governor said he had opted for because he was told emergency contraception could terminate a developing embryo.
"I understand that my views on laws governing abortion set me in the minority in our Commonwealth," Romney wrote in an op-ed defending his veto. "I am prolife. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother."
After the law was enacted, Romney was accused of a "flip-flop" when he decided that the new emergency contraception law superceded a current law that exempted Catholic hospitals from having to dispense emergency contraception. So although Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts ended up losing their exemption, Romney had vetoed the legislation that brought this about.
To be clear, Romney is not, as the Gingrich ad accuses, "pro-abortion" or even pro-contraception. He supports overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman's right to have an abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb. And although he attended Planned Parenthood fund-raisers and supported taxpayer funding for abortion before changing his stance in 2005, Romney now says he would eliminate the Title X family planning program, which funds Planned Parenthood and provides affordable contraception and other basic medical care to millions of uninsured and low-income women.