Mitt Romney Must Learn the Language of Life

Not long ago in Iowa Governor Romney caused a slight kerfuffle when he said he did not have any specific legislative proposals for the right to life. Almost immediately he added that he would, however, reinstitute Mexico City Policy. Ho-hum.

Mexico City Policy is often touted by candidates and by office holders as pro-life bona fides sufficient to warm the cockles of even the most ardent pro-lifer’s heart and it shouldn’t be.

Mexico City Policy forbids the tiniest sliver of the federal budget from supporting groups that perform or promote abortion overseas. It is often mentioned in the same breath with defunding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), a largely wicked UN agency that promotes abortion around the world.

Both have become political territory fought over viciously as if they were Alsace-Lorraine. A new president comes in and almost immediately strikes down or reestablishes Mexico City Policy and later, in his budget, either funds or defunds UNFPA. Partisan street fighting ensues.

The thing is, neither one of them—Mexico City Policy or UNFPA funding—are of paramount importance in the larger pro-life scheme of things.

Mexico City Policy affects a part of the federal budget for family planning totaling a relatively meager $461 million. Understand that hardly any of this would go to groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. One House staff member says the amounts are not known. What is known is that a portion would go to International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, the two largest abortion providers in the world.

The fight over UNFPA is also a bloody battle and this over an annual grant of a measly $25 million, an infinitesimal amount of the US budget and a small portion of UNFPA’s almost billion-dollar annual budget.

The sexual left fights over these amounts as if losing them marks the end of the world. They routinely trot out questionable statistics about the thousands and thousands of women who would die if these funds were not allocated. This is profoundly dishonest and not because of the made up statistics of maternal mortality but also because this money is almost always immediately replaced by the UK, Norway and other “donor” countries. When the US first started defunding UNFPA the amount was immediately replaced by the European Union, and UNFPA went on a decade-long fund drive that saw their budget grow from $250 million to north of $750 million.

I am not saying these things are not important to pro-lifers. They are. But they are a bare minimum. They are the lowest possible hanging fruit. What we want is for our politicians to climb the ladder and reach for the fruit on the top of the tree. Mexico City Policy and defunding UNFPA cannot replace the large bore pro-life demands such as a pro-life Attorney General, a pro-life Secretary of Health and Human Services, judges and justices who are originalists and texturalists who can be counted on to interpret the constitution in its plain meaning and not in its “penumbras” and “emanations.”  And these are just for starters.

Touting these things is similar to politicians using partial birth abortion to prove they are pro-life. Partial birth abortion is a barbaric practice that crushes the skull of a child in the process of being delivered. Opposing this cannot be proof of being pro-life. Again, it is the bare minimum.

Part of the problem is that many politicians, including Romney, are strangers in the pro-life land. They do not speak the language. They are like American tourists trying to order coffee in Rome. It is a fairly easy thing to do but also easy to fumble unless you do it every day.

Romney stumbled earlier when he said he would accept abortion for the health of the mother, apparently not knowing that the health exception in Doe v. Bolton is what gave us abortion on demand in the first place. Even true-blue pro-lifer Todd Akin stumbled badly on the pro-choice gotcha question of the rape exception. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock did, too. A few days ago he said a pregnancy from rape was the will of God.

Romney and others could do with serious drilling in Pro-Life Language 101 and they could do worse in learning from Georgette Forney and Serrin Foster, both experts in speaking the kind of pro-life language that appeals to women.

Georgette founded Silent No More Awareness, which encourages women to take their abortion hurt into the public square. They talk quite openly about their abortions and how they were hurt by them; the nightmares, depression, and related pathologies. She points out that abortions are not a matter of empowerment but an act of desperation and the result of abandonment. This brings to us the reality that abortion incurs two victims, the unborn child and the woman.

In the same way, Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life promotes the idea that “women deserve better than abortion,” that women are often abandoned precisely by those who should be protecting and supporting them at a difficult moment. Instead of protecting them, young women are often pressured by family and friends and even Pastors to abort their unborn child.

What Forney and Foster do is to eliminate the false dichotomy between mother and child. Abortion advocates like to pit mother against child, making the mother believe her unborn child is an enemy who wants to take away the mother’s life. In fact, Forney and Foster insist, their destinies are inextricably linked and abortion does nothing to change that and only imposes the death of the child and the mother’s permanent hurt.

Fully catechized by Forney and Foster, Romney may no longer stumble. Asked if he has a legislative plan on abortion, Governor Romney would say, “I believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and hope to see it overturned. In the meantime, both through legislation and executive appointments, my administration will help women in their time of need. My administration and I will not abandon them. We will not leave them all alone with that terrible ‘choice.’”

This is the most sophisticated pro-life language there is, and has the added advantage of being a totally foreign language to abortion advocates who prefer women to be isolated and alone in that terrifying little room at Planned Parenthood.

Austin Ruse


Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. He is the author of Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data published by Regnery and Little Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ published by Tan Books. His forthcoming book from Tan Books, written with His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, is expected this spring. The views expressed here are solely his own.

  • Jim Kelly

    Biggest plus for Pro-Life movement is Presidential selection of Supreme Court…While I do believe that Romney is new to Pro-Life world, I certainly know where Obama lies with his selection of Supreme Court Judges.

  • Anna

    I cannot understand the current uproar over Richard Mourdock’s comment. This personal testimony from Pam Stenzel provides credence to his insightful words:

    “My biological father is a rapist. I don’t even know my ethnicity,
    but my life still has value and it isn’t worth any less than any of yours just
    because of how I was conceived. And, I do not believe that I deserved the death
    penalty because of the crime of my father. All of my life I have had to listen
    to the rhetoric that every child should be wanted and planned. I have heard
    people say, “I wouldn’t have an abortion that would be terrible but if it were
    rape, well then…?” I guess that means that I am a “mistake!” I don’t believe
    that. I believe that every child is wanted by someone, and I believe that God
    in His mercy had a plan for me.” Click to read her story:

  • Pingback: Mitt Romney Must Learn the Language of Life | Catholic Canada()

  • Briana

    Feminists for Life is one of my favorite charities! I would encourage all readers to look into what this group does and support it! 🙂

    • Paula

      I second this. Please check out their website and then send them a check. Their voice is one of reason and wisdom.

      • Briana

        THANK YOU! 🙂

  • David

    I just don’t understand what was so terrible about Richard Mourdock’s remark. He did not say, and of course did not mean, that rape is willed by God. No one would say such a ridiculous thing. But the pregnancy is willed by God. We know this because everything that is real, save sin, is willed by God. If you want to know God’s will, look at reality. What is so awful about what Mourdock said?

    • Ford Oxaal

      The whole Mourdock thing was about the political inexpediency of discussing philosophy and theology in a political setting. Politics is hardball, and Mourdock cannot do any good if he strikes out politically.

  • James A in PA

    After pandering to left-leaning MA voters to win in that state as governor and pandering to the far right to win the primary, Romney is now pandering to moderates to try to win the election. He speaks double-talk. He signed abortion procedures into law in MA. Then he went all “severely conservative”, and now he’s suddenly middle of the road. Who knows where he really stands on abortion or anything else. My three major moral concerns for this election are: abortion rights, heath care for all, and the environment, and I’m voting Democrat on all three. Obama’s policies will continue to reduce abortion rates, and it’s a no-brainer for the other two.

    • James A in PA

      By the way, I should stress that I am strongly anti-abortion, which is why I’m anti-Romney. His economic policies will continue where Bush left off, leaving women without healthcare and support during a pregnancy, meaning an increased abortion rate. We’re just starting to recover from the mess Bush left behind. The recovery would come to an abrupt halt. I believe Obama’s social and economic policies will continue to significantly reduce abortion rates.

      • Adam_Baum

        Yeah because BOOSH was responsible for all the abortions that occurred during the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, BOOSH41 and Clinton administration.

        You tell yourself anything you want to justify voting for Obama, but don’t tell us anybody is going to be “left without healthcare”-because we’ve had Medicaid since the 1960’s-before Roe v. Wade and nobody is proposing its termination.

        Whatever Romney’s deficiencies, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the usual suspects aren’t supporting Obama because they expect a reduction in the number of abortions. Not one pro-life organization is supporting Obama. They expect abortion to be free and common under Obamanocare.

        What you believe is fantasy. Obama had 43 straight months of 8 plus percent unemployment, record unemployment among the young and only a dropping labor participation rate is keeping the UCR under 10% and nobody’s buying the “thing’s are gettin’ better”, because only the economically illiterate will believe it.

        Troll elsewhere.

        • Curt

          I agree with James. Romney signed into law a bill that: a) provided free contraception, and b) was more pro-abortion than Obamacare. He cannot be credible on pro-life issues. The Repubs, while claiming to be “pro-life” have done virtually nothing on the abortion issue except mine a gullible electorate for votes. Been there, done that! The Dems, while claiming to be “pro-choice”, actually have policies that reduce abortion rates. That is why, with opposing abortion as my primary election issue, I will be voting for Obama. Measurable results mean more than election rallying cries on either side. I recently saw a post indicating that 10 times as many children die from lack of health care as from late term abortion.

          The real problem here is a two party system that encompasses many issues under two very large tents. Under most representative European systems, people who are strongly anti-abortion (or strongly any other issue) have some representation in Parliament, even if it’s only 10 or 20%. As a result, abortion rates are significantly lower in most first world countries than they are here in the US and many of them limit legal abortion to the first trimester.

          As for Obama’s economic record, unemployment rates are lower now than they have been in four years. Who was president four years ago? In 2008, as a result of fiscal and military recklessness and irresponsibility, we were headed for a depression on a scale of the Great Depression, but we got away with a bad recession instead. Romney will pick up where Bush left off and cause untold hardship for the 47% he says he doesn’t care about.

          We have to be realistic and put solutions that work before our partisan politics if we genuinely care about the unborn.

      • John200

        It is inconceivable that a normal Catholic could believe that the Little Boy President has an acceptable position on killing the youngest among us.

        Maybe your comment is full of typos? Gotta get those fingers under your control.

  • Just Wondering

    The following statements do not reflect pro life language:
    The Mexico City Policy is a “a relatively meager $461 million.”
    The fight over UNFPA is a “measly $25 million.”

    Since when are millions of dollars meager or measly? Isn’t there a moral issue involved in these instances—–the issue of reeking the abomination of abortion on other nations?

    • Austin Ruse

      When compared, as I do in my piece, with the larger and more important issues, then they are measly.

  • Mary Beth

    I’ve been played for a fool by the Republicans one too many times. They claim to be prolife but do nothing to promote life either for the unborn or postborn. Mitt Romney has been on all sides of this and other debates. My anti abortion vote will go to the other side. They’re a long way from perfect but at least they reduce abortion rates and help women in poverty and without health care.

    • Ford Oxaal

      Hint: It’s about the Supreme Court.

  • John son of John

    romney should listen more often to ryans advice
    God bless

  • Tom ATK

    Dear Austin

    You make really good points. Abortion is about change of

    People tend to focus on the extremes. But the fact is that
    >99% of abortions are done as a back up, when birth control (BC) fails. Less
    than 1% are because of forced intercourse.

    One problem is that even if Roe Vs Wade is repealed (as it
    should), a strictly legislative strategy will not be the answer either. Does
    any one really expect that 100’s of thousands teenagers/young adults will be
    put in jail each year because they had abortions?

    Another problem is that people in general do not acknowledge
    the fact that no birth control is 100% effective. None. But that is not what people
    are told by those that provide BC. So when people become pregnant, then what? They
    panic (“oh my gosh, I/you are pregnant, how could that be?” answer: “you had
    sex, you moron”), and chose abortion. The Church does not address this issue,
    and Church should.

    People should be taught that if they are going to use birth
    control, to acknowledge the simple fact that it is never 100% effective, and to
    make the responsibility, if pregnant, to keep the baby, if need be give it up
    to adoption. The stigma of teenage or young adult out of wed lock pregnancy is
    long gone. Young people should be taught
    to make that decision before even thinking of having sex. This is what needs to
    be taught in schools.

    NFP is no different from other forms non-abortificant BC, technically.
    They are all artificially created barriers. NFP uses time as barrier. The big
    difference between NFP and other methods is the attitude. People that practice
    NFP accept that if they become pregnant, they keep the child. That attitude needs
    to be taught for forms of BC.

    BC is not going away. The Church needs to address this issue
    head on, to dissociate BC, as a sin, from abortion, as an intrinsic evil. But
    this will take courage, and intellect, something lacking these days.

    BTW, I totally disagree that the sums of money that you
    quote are small change. One can do a lot of damage with these sums.

    Does that make sense?