Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared his support for legalized abortion his “biggest mistake” and shunned federal funding for controversial embryonic stem cell research programs.
CBS News’ Katie Couric last week interviewed the former Massachusetts governor, asking him what his biggest mistake was.
“Well, I think from the political perspective, the biggest mistake I made was believing that my personal disagreement with abortion and my view that abortion was wrong, that somehow I could accommodate my personal view that abortion was wrong with a public view that other people should be able to make up their own mind, and the government wouldn't play a role. That, in my view, was a mistake,” Romney answered.
Governor Romney said his mistake became apparent to him when the Massachusetts legislature sent an embryonic cloning bill to him for approval.
The governor explained his ethical conversion, saying “what I recognized is that in a civilized society that there has to be a respect for the sanctity of life - that if you put that aside, if you say, ‘We're gonna start creating life and then destroying it,’ you're, in effect, playing God. And I think a civilized society has certain rules of conduct that it live by and one of those is to respect the sanctity of life.”
Romney said that he realized his personal opposition to abortion was inconsistent if he also supported “laws which permitted and permit the destruction of life throughout our society.”
Governor Romney did voice a strong opposition to certain kinds of embryonic research, saying, “…creating new embryos through embryo farming or through cloning, I find to be unethical and I would not pursue that course of stem cell research.”
However, he did not have ethical objections to all research destructive of human embryos. Though he did not want to fund such experimentation with taxpayer monies, he supported using for research those embryos left over from fertility treatments.
“…if a parent decides they would want to donate one of those embryos for purposes of research, in my view, that's acceptable. It should not be made against the law. I wouldn't finance that with government money because it represents a moral challenge for a lot of people and I think we're better investing in places where the prospects are much better.”
Romney did declare his support for funding alternative methods that could provide useful sources of stem cells while possibly avoiding ethical objections. He said one better prospect was “something known as alter[ed]-nuclear transfer where you create new embryo-like entities, but they're not human embryos. And you can take stem cells from those.”