Romney's Pro-Life Conversion: Myth or Reality?

Romney's presidential campaign explains that when he was declaring his support for the House bill, he was focused on which kinds of embryonic stem cell research it would have allowed, and was not talking about taxpayer funding, which the Massachusetts bill did not address.

"While the governor opposes federal funding for that particular research," said deputy campaign manager Flaherty, "he does encourage and support federal funding for alternative methods to obtain pluripotent stem cells, like direct programming and altered nuclear transfer."

The House Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, offered by Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., was a short piece of legislation, amending the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services "to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells" as long as the embryos met certain requirements: created for the purposes of fertility treatments, extra and never would have been implanted in a woman, donated for free from in vitro fertilization clinics and destined to be discarded.

Other Questions Arise

Romney has faced other questions about his judicial appointments. A July 2005 Boston Globe analysis found that Romney nominated registered Republicans for only one-fourth of the 36 judicial vacancies he filled during his first 2 1/2 years as governor. The personal abortion views of most of those nominees are not known, since most had no previous judicial writings and were private citizens before becoming judges.

The Globe found that Romney's nominees included two longtime gay rights advocates; one was a former board member of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. Romney had no opportunities to make appointments to the state's supreme court -- the panel that made Massachusetts the only state in the nation to recognize gay marriages -- during his four years as governor.

Romney aides point out that he was governing in a heavily Democratic state when naming judges. All judicial nominations are confirmed by the independently elected -- and all-Democratic -- Governor's Council, though the council has very rarely rejected any governor's selections.

"By virtue of the sheer numbers, the pool of Republican applicants is going to be significantly smaller," Flaherty said.

While acknowledging that he held a functionally "pro-choice" position before December 2004, Romney has also claimed to have governed from a "pro-life" standpoint throughout his term as governor.

"I believe people will see that as governor, when I had to examine and grapple with this difficult issue, I came down on the side of life," Romney said in a December 2006 interview with National Review Online. "I'm committed to promoting the culture of life."

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