The Benefit of a Doubt

I’d like to revisit my post yesterday, Was Romney Sincere?

I quoted conservative columnist Ann Coulter, who was talking about Romney’s 1994 run against Ted Kennedy for the U.S. Senate, when Romney was attempting to convince Massachusetts voters that he was pro-choice.  Coulter said the following:

“Nearly two decades ago, when Romney was trying to defeat champion desecrator of life Sen. Teddy Kennedy, he sought to remove abortion as a campaign issue by declaring that he, too, supported Roe v. Wade. (Nonetheless, Kennedy ran a campaign commercial against him featuring a Mormon woman complaining that Romney, as a Mormon elder, had pressured her not to have an abortion, but to give the child up for adoption. Are you getting the idea that Massachusetts is different from the rest of America, readers?)”

When I first read this, I was puzzled.  Would Ted Kennedy and the liberals in Massachusetts really criticize Mitt Romney for encouraging a woman to have her baby and to give the child up for adoption rather than having an abortion?  I suppose that there are some liberals who would be appalled by a woman not choosing abortion.  They may see the fetus as a mere blob of tissue and think that the woman is holding herself back and giving in to religious extremists by having the child, and so they’d encourage her to have the abortion.  But my impression (based upon the liberals I know and have read or seen on TV) is that many liberals would not be rooting for the woman to have the abortion.  They’d want for her to make her own choice, based on what she thinks.  And, while they most likely would not want for Mitt Romney or the government to pressure the woman to have the baby, I doubt that they’d see Romney as evil for doing so as a private citizen.  But that’s my impression, and I could be wrong.

It turns out that there may be more to the issue, though.  This article by Charles Johnson on Romney and abortion is worth reading.  Johnson says: “In 2007, Judy Dushku recalled a published anonymous article in her feminist Mormon magazine, Exponents II, by a Mormon woman who wanted to have an abortion in 1990 when Mitt Romney was a stake president. (The article did not mention Mitt Romney by name, but Dushku later identified him.) The woman, Carrel Hilton Sheldon, has since come forward. Sheldon claims that Romney worked very hard to prevent her from having an abortion, even though her doctor (also a Mormon and past stake president) said her pregnancy might take her life. The woman ultimately had the abortion.”

The article to which Johnson links says the following, quoting from a New York Times article:

“In 1990, Exponent II, a Mormon feminist magazine that Ms. Dushku, the Suffolk University professor, helped found, published an article by a married mother of four who recounted her own experience after doctors advised her to terminate her pregnancy when she was being treated for a potentially dangerous blood clot.  Her bishop got wind of the situation, she wrote, and showed up unannounced at the hospital, warning her sternly not to go forward. The article did not identify Mr. Romney as the bishop, but Ms. Dushku later did.  Now the woman has come forward, identifying herself in Mr. Scott’s book as Carrel Hilton Sheldon. (Through Ms. Dushku, she declined to be interviewed.) ‘Mitt has many, many winning qualities,” she is quoted as saying, “but at the time he was blind to me as a human being.'”

See here and here.

I do not know if that was the case that Kennedy was talking about (for Romney encouraged women not to abort more than once), but it would make sense to me if it was.  I doubt that Massachusetts liberals would see Romney as evil for thinking that abortion was wrong and for gently seeking to persuade a woman to have her baby and to put the child up for adoption rather than choosing abortion.  But they would have serious problems with Romney doing so in an arrogant manner that callously disregarded the life and health of the woman, especially when giving birth could cost her life.  (And I say this while remembering that the Mormon church allows abortion to save the life of the mother, and that Romney’s current pro-life position contains a “life of the mother” exception.  Perhaps Romney the elder did not feel that the woman’s life was at risk.)

But I not only give Massachusetts liberals the benefit of a doubt (as opposed to seeing them as monstrous fanatics rooting for women to have abortions).  I do the same for Republicans, too.  For example, I read an article yesterday on a liberal site, New Hampshire GOP Introduce Bills To Roll Back Domestic Violence Laws.  These bills may very well undermine domestic violence laws (and there is discussion in the comments section about whether they will do so).  But I seriously doubt that the Republicans introducing these bills actually support domestic violence.  Why?  Because I don’t think that people are thoroughly evil.  Proud?  Yes.  Selfish?  Yes.  Greedy?  Yes.  But actively rooting for people to be hurt?  I don’t think so. 

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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