Governors Report Card: How Romney, Huntsman, Perry Changed Health Care


"We are facing a $27 billion budget deficit, and this was an emergency item," said Yvonne Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas. "This was one of those incidents where you knew this was wrong. This has nothing to do with the health of our state or with anyone being informed or any effort to make better the situation in Texas surrounding our budget."

The Texas Legislature also passed a bill this session that cuts about $64 million from family planning centers and redirects that money to faith-based pregnancy centers, which do not provide abortions, and to other services such as at-risk youth programs.

In 2005 Perry signed a bill requiring women younger than 17 to get parental consent for an abortion, strengthening a 1999 law that he helped get through the legislature as lieutenant governor that required parents to be notified but not necessarily give consent.

Perry's signing of the parental consent law caught national media attention because he held the signing ceremony in a Christian school.

"Gov. Perry has been very helpful in passing measures that help steer women to alternatives to abortion. He has been an ardent defender of the sanctity of human life," said Elizabeth Graham, the director of Texas Right to Life.

Romney's abortion stance, on the other hand, was less defined during his term as governor. While running for office in 2002 Romney said in a debate against his Democratic opponent Shannon O'Brien that he supported abortion righrs.

"I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose," Romney said. "I am not going to change our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in any way. I am not going to make any changes which would make it more difficult for a woman to make that choice herself."

But as governor, Romney vetoed a bill that would expand access to emergency contraception, writing in an op-ed explaining his veto that he was "pro-life."

"While I do not favor abortion, I will not change the state's abortion laws," Romney wrote in 2005.

Most recently, Romney defined his position in a National Review op-ed in June in which he wrote that he supported defunding Planned Parenthood and overturning Roe v. Wade, a very different position than the one he took when running for governor. His change of heart has spurred attacks from both both Republicans and Democrats.

"No matter which side you're on, I think that Mitt Romney doesn't have any credibility on reproductive rights," said Tricia Wajda, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. "The only rights he's interested in protecting is his own right to waffle on his own positions."

Fellow presidential contender Michele Bachmann took a stab at Romney's record in June at a National Right to Life convention.

"This is not the time for the Republican Party to put up a candidate who is weak on the pro-life issue or has a history of flip-flopping over it," Bachmann said.

While social issues are being eclipsed by economic woes at the national level, they are important as ever in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina, which was born out by the prevalence of anti-abortion and defense-of-marriage applause lines at the Ames Straw Poll last weekend.

None of the previous or current governors in the presidential race competed in the straw poll, but Perry still captured 150 more write-in votes than front-runner Romney, a surprisingly good finish considering the Texas governor did not announce his candidacy until the day of the poll.

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