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Governor Romney’s Genuine Conversion

In all my years in the pro-life movement, I have always believed that our goal was not only to change laws, but to change minds — and we have changed many minds. Ronald Reagan, Henry Hyde, and countless others who at one point supported abortion rights later came to understand that human life at its very beginning moments must be protected.

We take pride in the work of these individuals, because in their changes of heart, they proved that the mission of the pro-life community is not only sacred, but it is also capable of winning new adherents and allies.

I can think of no better example of this change of heart than Governor Mitt Romney. He has traveled down a path of discovery, and explored the philosophical and scientific basis for the pro-life position. Now, he counts himself among the millions of Americans who oppose abortion on demand and scientific experimentation with human embryos.

I have watched Governor Romney’s journey, and I believe he is sincere in his change of heart. But you don’t have to trust me on that count; you merely have to look at what Governor Romney said and did on life issues when it counted:

In 2002, during his campaign for governor, he supported Massachusetts’ parental notification laws for minor girls seeking abortions; his opponent opposed such notification laws. Thankfully, he won and those parental notification laws remain on Massachusetts’ books.

In 2005, Governor Romney vetoed a bill that would have expanded stem cell experiments involving the cloning of human embryos – a practice he called morally wrong. At the time, Romney spoke movingly of the moral issues at work: “It is wrong to allow science to take an assembly line approach to the production of human embryos,” he wrote in a letter explaining his veto.

That same year, he vetoed legislation that would have allowed the “morning after pill” to be purchased without a prescription. He also vetoed legislation that would have redefined a human life as an implanted embryo, rather than a fertilized embryo. The legislation would have allowed scientists to experiment freely on fertilized embryos before destroying them — treating the fertilized embryo as nothing more than what some scientists call a “clump of cells.”

In 2006, he announced that the state would sponsor abstinence education programs in its middle schools, the first time Massachusetts agreed to spend federal abstinence education funds on in-school programs.

I am hardly the only pro-lifer to notice that Governor Romney has been a reliable friend of the pro-life community. Prominent pro-life attorney James Bopp Jr. recently wrote that Governor Romney has the “conviction and courage” needed to help America reach a pro-life consensus and adopt pro-life laws. Massachusetts Citizens For Life Executive Director Marie Sturgis said Governor Romney was “one of the strongest assets the pro-life movement has had in Massachusetts.”

Time after time, when pressed by a very liberal legislature to approve laws liberalizing the use of abortion and experimentation on embryos, Governor Romney has consistently chosen life. In his constancy, Governor Romney has proven himself a staunch ally in our effort to change hearts and change minds. He has shown that someone leading a state with a liberal electorate can govern as a pro-life leader.

And most importantly, he has shown an understanding of the pro-life movement. We are not a single issue movement. We do not simply seek to end the Roe v. Wade era. We seek to raise America’s consciousness of the nature of life at its earliest moments — fragile, weak, and completely dependent for protection and sustenance.

We will accomplish this goal by supporting leaders such as Governor Romney. He has been an ally in opposing abortion on demand, he has been an ally in opposing scientific experiments on human embryos, and he has been an ally in defending the primacy of the family. With his wife of 38 years, his five sons, and ten grandchildren, he is the living embodiment of what the pro-life movement stands for — and we should all support his candidacy.

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Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) is the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

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