With the Iowa caucuses less than one month away, Americans are learning more and more about the Republicans vying to replace President Obama.
When it comes to their records on choice, one thing is clear: all of the Republican presidential candidates oppose a woman's right to choose.
In fact, some of these candidates will gather in Des Moines Wednesday night for a forum on abortion hosted by anti-choice former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) and several anti-choice organizations.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and the current frontrunner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, will join Huckabee in Des Moinespresumably to expound further on their plans to chip away at a woman's right to make private medical decisions with her doctor.
One candidate who won't be at the forum is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
This is a pity, because Romney's own words and deeds make Americans question his values and convictions on choice.
Back in 2002, when he was trying to get elected governor in a pro-choice state, he promised NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts that he'd be a "good voice in the [Republican] party" for women's freedom and privacy.
Then, he pulled a 180-degree turn, and took anti-choice actions as governor.
Given the governor's swift embrace of extreme anti-choice policies, reporters and voters likely have some questions for himeven though he decided against attending Huckabee's forum.Here are a few "$10,000 questions" they should be asking Gov. Romney:
- In October, you told Gov. Huckabee that you "absolutely" supported a state constitutional amendment to define life at conception, similar to Initiative 26, Mississippi's failed "personhood" measure.
Such a measure would ban abortion care without exception: even in cases of rape or incest, and even when a woman's life or health is in danger. It could also outlaw in vitro fertilization and some of the most common methods of birth control.
However, after Mississippi voters overwhelming rejected Initiative 26, your campaign tried to re-explain your endorsement of a "human-life amendment" that would have established the beginning of life at conception. Why are you supporting measures that voters in one of the most conservative states in the Union found too extreme?
- This year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two radical attacks on a woman's right to choose: H.R.3, the "Stupak on Steroids" bill, and H.R.358, the "Let Women Die" bill. Both bills effectively would ban private coverage of abortion care in health-insurance exchanges. (A large majority of private plans currently offer such coverage.) H.R.358 would also allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care even when it's necessary to save a woman's life.President Obama signaled his intention to veto both bills if they should ever reach his desk. As president, would you sign H.R.3, the "Stupak on Steroids" bill, or H.R.358, the "Let Women Die" bill?
- Gov. Romney, last month you proposed eliminating the Title X program, the nation's only dedicated family-planning program. Millions of Americans rely on Title X for birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care. How do you propose that these Americans get access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care they need once you've eliminated Title X?
NARAL Pro-Choice America's publication The Powers of the President: Reproductive Freedom and Choice details just how much power the president has over reproductive-health policy in the United States.
Indeed, the next president could nominate enough Supreme Court justices to determine the future of Roe v. Wade and women's constitutional right to choose for decades to come.
Given the stakes, it's only natural that Americans would want to know what someone who could be their next president would do to protect women's freedom and privacy.
Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
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