By John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, December 10, 2007 ( – In an interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric last week, GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney was asked “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?”  Interestingly, he responded that his practice of the popular stand on abortion – ‘personally opposed, but . . .’ was his biggest mistake.  However, in the same interview he noted he still supports destructive research on embryonic stage humans.

“I think from the political perspective, the biggest mistake I made was believing that my personal disagreement with abortion and my view that abortion was wrong, that somehow I could accommodate my personal view that abortion was wrong with a public view that other people should be able to make up their own mind, and the government wouldn’t play a role,” Romney replied. 

After some time Couric pursued the matter further asking, “You said you have personal views toward abortion but felt that in the public arena, another position could exist. What is wrong with that? What’s wrong with having a personal view and feeling that it’s the right of individuals to make these difficult choices?”

Romney replied: “Well, what I recognized is that in a civilized society that there has to be a respect for the sanctity of life – that if you put that aside, if you say, “We’re gonna start creating life and then destroying it,” you’re, in effect, playing God. And I think a civilized society has certain rules of conduct that it live by and one of those is to respect the sanctity of life. Another is respect in the sanctity of marriage. And…so when…I was faced with not a theoretical question of, “What do you think about abortion?” but, instead, the reality of being a governor who would sign a bill that would create life and destroy it, this was an embryonic cloning bill, I said, “I simply cannot become party to something where life would be created and then destroyed.” And that made the decision for me that it was impossible to have a strong position personally opposing abortion and, at the same time, to say that we’re going to have laws which permitted and permit the destruction of life throughout our society.”

However in what would be seen by many as a contradiction, Romney told Couric he supported embryonic stem cell research.

Couric asked: “So what kind of embryos – embryos that are created for procreation and then would be discarded? Are those the ones that you feel are perfectly fine from which to cull cells for stem cell research?”
Romney replied: “Yes, those embryos that are referred to commonly as surplus embryos from in-vitro fertilization. Those embryos, I hope, could be available for adoption for people who would like to adopt embryos. But if a parent decides they would want to donate one of those embryos for purposes of research, in my view, that’s acceptable. It should not be made against the law.”

Romney noted that he would not permit public monies to pay for such research. “I wouldn’t finance that with government money because it represents a moral challenge for a lot of people and I think we’re better investing in places where the prospects are much better,” he said.

See the full CBS News interview with Romney and other candidates: