NOTE: Just to be fair, I want to point out that Romney did in fact veto this state law that was overridden by the legislature. The problem comes from the fact that while he initially said that a preexisting statute gave freedom of conscience on religious grounds to those who opposed it, he caved a few weeks later due to widespread criticism. The bottom line is that Catholics in the state felt like he didn’t fight hard enough for their freedom of conscience and it didn’t help that he had stated that he really believed that rape victims were entitled to the emergency contraception.
Romney’s attack on the president this week for forcing all health care plans to provide free birth control isn’t sitting well with Catholics who said he did something similar when he was Governor of Massachusetts:
BOSTON.COM – In December 2005, Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, even though some Catholics view the morning-after pill as a form of abortion.
He said he was acting on his legal counsel’s interpretation of a new state law – one passed by lawmakers despite his veto – but he also said that “in his heart of hearts,’’ he believed that rape victims should have access to emergency contraception.
Some Catholic leaders now point to inconsistency in Romney’s criticism of the president and characterize his new stance as politically expedient, even as they welcome it.
“The initial injury to Catholic religious freedom came not from the Obama administration but from the Romney administration,’’ said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts. “President Obama’s plan certainly constitutes an assault on the constitutional rights of Catholics, but I’m not sure Governor Romney is in a position to assert that, given his own very mixed record on this.’’ …
The Romney campaign, asked this week about his past actions on the issue, issued a statement Wednesday noting that he had originally vetoed the bill giving rape victims access to emergency contraception.
“The governor’s position on this law was that it never should have gone into effect in the first place, which is why he vetoed it,’’ the statement said. Asked yesterday to explain his 2005 comments in a Globe interview about believing in his “heart of hearts’’ that rape victims were entitled to emergency contraception, the campaign did not respond. …
In December of that year, days before the law was to go into effect, Romney’s public health commissioner determined that a preexisting statute saying private hospitals could not be forced to provide abortions or contraception gave Catholic and other privately run hospitals the right to opt out of the new law on religious or moral grounds.
That ruling sparked widespread criticism, including some by Romney’s lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey. Days later the Romney administration reversed course. His legal counsel concluded the new law did not provide any religious exemptions.
Further confusing voters on his position, Romney said he supported the use of emergency contraception by rape victims. “My personal view, in my heart of hearts, is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraception or emergency contraception information,’’ he said.
Another reason it’s so dang hard to trust Romney. And it looks like Newt just got more ammo for his ad comparing Romney to Obama.
UPDATE: I added more to the quote to note that indeed Romney did veto the law, yet he indicated in an interview that he believed rape victims were entitled to emergency contraception. Seems a bit of a mixed positioning.