Romney’s Abortion Code Needs Updating

by Stuart Rothenberg January 31, 2006 · 9:19 AM EST

When Mitt Romney spoke to a roomful of reporters at a lunch hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday, he said the right thing about his current position on abortion, but he said it in the wrong way. President George W. Bush, the master of speaking to evangelicals and socially conservative Republicans, would never have made the same mistake.

In responding to a question by political analyst Charlie Cook, of The Cook Political Report, Romney acknowledged that he only recently decided to accept the pro-life label. That’s certainly a problem for the Massachusetts governor, but an even bigger problem may be that he began his response by referring to “my history on choice.”

Pro-life activists never refer to the issue of abortion as “choice.” That’s a word – a construction – that comes from the abortion rights movement. Opponents of legal abortion refer to the issue as “abortion.” Using “choice” as he did will likely only add to the skepticism among abortion opponents of Romney’s recent conversion, making it more difficult to put the issue to rest in a party that is not likely to nominate a pro-choice candidate in 2008.