Governor Mitt Romney reversed course on the state’s new emergency contraception law yesterday, saying that all hospitals in the state will be obligated to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims.
The decision overturns a ruling made public this week by the state Department of Public Health that privately run hospitals could opt out of the requirement if they objected on moral or religious grounds.
Romney had initially supported that interpretation, but he said yesterday that he had changed direction after his legal counsel, Mark D. Nielsen, concluded Wednesday that the new law supersedes a preexisting statute that says private hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception.
”And on that basis, I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view,” Romney said at the State House after signing a bill on capital gains taxes.
The unexpected decision revived an awkward political situation for Romney, who has staked out more conservative positions on social issues as he gears up for a possible presidential run in 2008. After vetoing the emergency contraception bill this summer, he declared himself firmly ”prolife” and faulted the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
So not only did Romney “threaten religious liberty” in the exact same way Obama has supposedly done recently with the contraception access regulation, but he was already widely perceived in 2005 to be contemplating a Presidential campaign, over six years ago! Combined with his failed run as a pro gay rights progressive in 1994, his claims of living his life in the private sector don’t square with his clear political ambitions, while his dramatic, midlife change of heart into a pro life, “severe” conservative certainly does.