Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate with whom your grandmother would most like to waltz, has caught flack in the past for his conveniently flippity floppity views on abortion. Like many of his Republican brethren, he says now that he opposes abortion in all cases except rape, incest, or to preserve the health of the mother. But did you know that he once physically blocked a woman who needed a life-saving abortion and told her not to go through with the procedure? And did you know that Eliza Dushku's mom is involved?
The disappointing tale is briefly recounted in a New York Times piece about the role of Romney's faith in his politics that raises questions of exactly how much further than the church Romney would be willing to go.
Mitt Romney's strong identity with the Mormon church is well known, but his campaign has downplayed his faith, claiming that his political positions are public but his faith is personal. It wasn't always that way, and there are some who believe that it will never be that way.
Judith Dushku is a professor of history at Suffolk University, an outspoken Mormon feminist, and the mother of Dollhouse and Buffy star Eliza Dushku. She's also the founder of Exponent II, a Mormon feminist publication. In 1990, Ms. Dushku's magazine published the story of an anonymous 41 year old woman who experienced a life-threatening blood clot while she was pregnant for the sixth time. The woman was told by doctors that treatment of the clot would threaten the pregnancy, and so an abortion was necessary. The Mormon faith officially opposes abortion except in extreme cases, and women who are members of the church and seek an abortion are required to petition church elders for permission. She and her husband petitioned the Church to authorize them to receive the procedure, and a church elder told her and her husband that the procedure looked like unfortunate but unavoidable.
On the day of the abortion, the couple showed up at the hospital only to be greeted by their bishop, who had shown up, unannounced, to try to prevent her from going through with it, regardless of the fact that a church official with a higher rank than his had already given the okay. The bishop was determined to make his case against the life-saving surgery, and he was a total dick about it. According to a 2007 interview with Dushku, the following exchange occurred,
He said – What do you think you're doing?
She said – Well, we have to abort the baby because I have these blood clots.
And he said something to the effect of – Well, why do you get off easy when other women have their babies?
And she said – What are you talking about? This is a life threatening situation.
And he said – Well what about the life of the baby?
And she said – I have four other children and I think it would be really irresponsible to continue the pregnancy.
The bishop who tried to block that selfish, selfish clotted up woman from saving her own life with a legal medical procedure was one Mitt Romney. The woman he attempted to block did go through with her abortion and lived to see her four teenage children grow up. Her family later left the church.
When the Exponent II story was originally published, both the identity of the woman and the identity of the bishop were concealed.
Several years later, Dushku was pleasantly surprised to read that Romney was running for Senate as a pro-choice candidate, and even thought she could lend her support to Romney and his newfound pro-woman political stance. When she visited his office, he told her that he only supported a pro-choice agenda because church elders in Provo had told him that it was the only way he'd win the seat in the liberal state.
Dushku expressed her dismay at Romney's position of convenience, and he replied that he was totally fine with being pro choice for the sake of a campaign, as he had an aunt who died of a botched abortion. The two parted ways unsatisfied, and shortly thereafter Dushku revealed that Romney was the anti-choice bishop who had blocked the anonymous woman from having an abortion more than a decade before. The two friends had a falling out and stopped speaking.
She attempted to restore the friendship after Romney lost to Senator Ted Kennedy, but Romney rebuked her in the butthurtiest way possible, telling Dushku that he never wanted to speak to her again. She says,
He said I'm so angry at you. I don't ever want to talk about this again. And I don't want to talk to you.
And I said, I'm sorry about that Mitt because I thought we could have our political differences and remain at least cordial.
He said – No. That's not possible.
Some fans of Romney believe that he's long ago left behind his 1970's zealot ways. But Judith Dushku isn't convinced, and neither are we.
While Romney may seem like the most reasonable inmate in the haunted house insane asylum that is the current Republican field, remember what's at stake in next year's election. Our future head of state may be someone who cares so little for women that he once tried to curelly stop a woman from saving her own life in the name of protecting a fetus. And he's yet to apologize.
More 'Compassion' From GOP Candidates [Feministing]