Thursday, February 08, 2007

Researching the death Romey cited

Tragedy, experience shaped Romney's abortion views
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has had an epiphany on abortion -- not once, but twice.

The first time was when Romney was a young man in the 1960s and his brother-in-law's sister -- an engaged-to-be-married teen who became pregnant -- died in a botched illegal abortion.

Roughly three decades later, while campaigning for the Senate in 1994, Romney described that tragedy as the event that triggered his conclusion that regardless of personal beliefs, abortion should be safe and legal.

Yeah, legal equals safe. Yup. Yup.
Romney says his moment of illumination about the immorality of abortion came two years ago during a meeting with an embryonic stem cell researcher.

"The comment was made that this really wasn't a moral issue, because the embryos were terminated or destroyed at 14 days," Romney said during a recent campaign stop in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, in a reprise of other recent explanations of his thinking on abortion.

"And it struck me very powerfully at that point, that the Roe v. Wade approach has so cheapened the value of human life that someone could think it's not a moral issue to destroy embryos that have been created solely for the purpose of research, and I said to my chief of staff, and that's been 2 1/2 years ago, I said to her, 'I want to make it very clear that I'm pro-life.'"

I collect conversion stories, so of course this is interesting to me. But my obsession with abortion mortality makes me zoom in on the death of the woman.
Romney later identified the relative as the teenage sister of his brother-in-law, Loren "Larry" Keenan.

So now I have my research cut out for me. Searching for "Keenan abortion" is fruitless, since a Nancy Keenan is the president of NARAL and she pretty much pushes anything else out of the search engines.

Romey doesn't say much that would allow anybody to verify the story. I'll try emails to his exploratory committee, but like other "I'm prochoice because of somebody I knew who died from an illegal abortion", I'm betting that this one isn't going to pan out with anything verifiable.


Christina Dunigan said...

Tlaloc, legality might marginally improve the safety for the individual woman, but any improvement is offset by the leap in the number of women being exposed to the risk.

And we can look at the population being exposed to the risk. With illegal abortion, the population exposed to the risk will primarily be women fully committed to the abortion, no ambivalence, and aware that this is a risky behavior. With legal abortion, the women exposed to the risk are often ambivalent women who would not have otherwise sought abortion, who are not fully committed but often very ambivalent, and unaware that they're undertaking a risky behavior.

Reducing the at-risk population makes public health sense. And there are so many other things that can be done that don't require exposing more women to the risk, things that we were doing for an entire century such as improvements in overall health and medical care. Training professionals such as doctors and social workers on how to identify at-risk women and help them get help so that they're not seeking out abortion in the first place, teaching doctors how to promptly identify and treat abortion complications, etc.

The problem was being effectively addressed, and there were more things we could have done to reduce the damage even more. Instead we just legalized and stuck our heads in the sand.

Christina Dunigan said...

Thanks for the search hints, Tlaloc.

Christina Dunigan said...

No dice. Oh, well. Thanks anyway.

Christina Dunigan said...

Tlaloc, you don't seem to grasp that abortion isn't like getting a mole removed. You personally may think they're raving lunatics for feeling so, but an awful lot of women -- even prochoice women -- find abortion tramuatic, they grieve, they're devastated by it. I've yet to encounter a single human being devastated by the removal of a mole.

If the idea is to reduce human suffering, then why put women through the needless risk that they'll end up like Stacy Zallie, or even like women like Jennifer?

And even women who have no qualms about abortion would prefer to avoid it. A prevention approach is good for everybody except people who might lose their livelihood if abortion became rare.