By Peter J. Smith

BOSTON, August 16, 2007 ( – Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has thrown his endorsement behind a human life amendment, an important clarification of the presidential hopeful’s pro-life position as he bids for the Republican nomination.

Romney made the choice to abandon his earlier rejection of the human life amendment as he poured money and energy into winning the Ames caucus in Iowa, where Republican voters run strongly social conservative.

“I do support the Republican platform and I do support that big part of the Republican platform, and I am pro-life,” Romney said during an August 6 Republican debate, when asked whether he affirmed the human life amendment, a key part of the 2004 Republican pro-life platform that was written by his pro-life advisor James Bopp,Jr..

The human life amendment intends to change the US Constitution by expanding 14th Amendment protections – such as due process and equal protection clauses – to include unborn children. Such an amendment would ban abortions nationwide and repeal the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

However the Associated Press reports that Romney later qualified his support for a human life amendment. According to the AP, Romney said his advisor Bopp had told him “there are a wide range of possible human life amendments” ranging from a total ban on abortion to an amendment that let states make the decision. On top of that, getting both houses of Congress and 38 out of 50 states to support a constitutional amendment, Bopp told him, “is just not realistic.”

Romney said he prefers a strategy of appointing strict constitutionalist judges, who might overturn Roe v. Wade, and allow the states to decide their policy regarding abortion. However, qualifying his support for the human life amendment would seem an unwise political move for Romney, who is trying to gain the trust of social conservatives skeptical of his pro-life conversion. President Bush also gave support to the amendment to win the GOP nomination.

Romney’s 2005 pro-life conversion has been subject to scrutiny by pro-life advocates, including Republican presidential candidate and senator Sam Brownback, who say Romney’s post-conversion actions do not demonstrate a true pro-life conviction. Romney approved in 2006 the Massachusetts health care plan that included taxpayer funding for abortions. In a 2005 Boston Globe editorial Romney also came out in favor of supporting stem-cell research on “surplus embryos from in-vitro fertilization.”

Hounded by the abortion question, Romney recently told reporters: “I’m pro-life; it would be great if we could just leave it at that.”

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