That was the subject of an e-mail I received from an LDS reader:
Mitt and I went to France in the same missionary group in 1966 and worked in the same city for several months. In addition to the time we spent together then, our paths have crossed a few times over the years. As you have well recognized, he is incredibly smart and extremely capable. Based on my personal experience, he is also decent, fun to be around, disciplined, hard working, and straight shooting in all aspects of his life.
While I was personally disappointed in his stance on abortion during the campaign against Ted Kennedy in 1994, I always took comfort in the fact that he never wavered in his publicly stated personal belief that abortion is wrong, a position for which he was loudly attacked by Kennedy and abortion advocates in 1994. The fact that he and his family came to a different decision regarding the legality of the matter, while disappointing to some, is not a determination that is philosophically inconsistent with other decisions that one might make.
For example, one can easily believe that it is wrong to consume alcohol or work on Sunday, but then accept an individual’s right to choose for themselves in each of those cases. Though a teetotaler myself, I would always support a person’s “right to choose,” at least in the case of alcohol consumption and Sunday activities. Not keeping the Sabbath Day holy will most likely only harm the individual; and, as long as it is done in moderation, the same goes for drinking.
The situation is of course different for abortion. Unfortunately, however, the fact that abortion takes an innocent life was not clear to Mitt’s family, a source of major inspiration for his former position. Nor was this clear to my own mother, who was also a Mormon, for good people do make mistakes. Prior to seeing intrauterine views of the unborn, it was not hard to consider the aborted fetus as just a “mass of cells.”
Mitt has very clearly explained how he came to understand the wrongness of the legalistic position he had taken before. Given that he has never wavered in his personal view of the fundamental immorality of abortion, why is it so hard for the individuals who attack him to understand how good people can sometimes be wrong, especially in a case such as this?
Finally, consider this irony. In “The Boston Herald,” October 26, 1994, Joe Battenfeld wrote a piece entitled “Romney: Family tragedy led to change of stance on abortion” in which he stated “Romney has been criticized by Kennedy and some abortion-rights leaders who claim he is not firmly committed to supporting legal abortion for all women.” Juxtaposed with that today are the pro-life advocates who attack Mitt, despite the fact that he has totally embraced their position. Is this not a rather silly situation indeed?