Anti-abortion rights groups get behind Romney

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, waves as he arrives at the spring reception for the Republican Committee of Chester County Tuesday, April 10, 2012 in Mendenhall, Pa.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Now that Mitt Romney has emerged as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, two anti-abortion rights groups are putting aside any reservations they had about him to focus on defeating President Obama in the fall.

Calling Mr. Obama "the country's most pro-abortion president," National Right to Life Committee president Carol Tobias said today in a statement, "It is now time for pro-life Americans to unite behind Mitt Romney. For the sake of unborn children, the disabled, and the elderly, we must win."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, similarly said today in a statement, "Now is the time to unite behind Governor Romney in order to defeat the most ideologically pro-abortion president in our nation's history."

Both groups have the potential to mobilize one of GOP's most fervent constituencies -- anti-abortion rights voters. SBA List, which is focused on advancing "pro-life" women in politics, plans to spend $10 to $12 million in Senate and presidential battleground states this year to bring out anti-abortion rights voters. The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), meanwhile, has a vast network of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters.

The endorsements suggest that Romney may not have to worry about mobilizing the social conservative base that was left without a man in the race when Rick Santorum dropped out of the primary this week. Social conservatives have long been wary of Romney, who served as governor in the deep-blue state of Massachusetts.

The endorsement from SBA List, with its focus on bringing conservative women into politics, is also pertinent this week in light of the ongoing skirmish between the Romney and Obama campaigns over women's issues in general. With polls showing that Mr. Obama holds a huge lead over Romney among women voters -- to the tune of 19 points -- the Obama campaign has hammering Romney for his stance on issues like equal pay laws. The Romney campaign, meanwhile, has been striking back with the argument that the economy under Mr. Obama's tenure has been especially bad for women.

The SBA List's Dannenfelser said in her statement, "Women deserve a president who truly respects our views on an issue so central to womanhood. A President Romney will be that man."

Both SBA List and NRLC pointed to Romney's positions on abortion-related issues to prove his authenticity as a social conservative, such as his remark that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision was "a big mistake."

Pro-abortion rights groups today are hitting back, also pointing to Romney's positions on abortion-related issues, and arguing they demonstrate precisely why women won't get behind Romney.

"So much for the idea that Romney will try to move to the middle in the general election. If he thought he had problems with women voters before, today's news only makes it worse," Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement in response to the two endorsements. "One of the major groups behind the War on Women is now rewarding Romney for supporting policies that would undermine women's freedom and privacy at every turn."