Charles Krauthammer is a frequent Mitt critic, but his take on the abortion pledge controversy strikes me as extremely sensible and reasonable:
Well, he’s taken some shots from some of his competitors — Santorum and Bachmann — over this. And I think they are cheap shots, because he issued a very strong pro-life statement which endorsed just about everything in the pledge including, for example, appointing judges who respect the Constitution [and] don’t legislate from the bench, which is obviously a reference to the abortion decision in 1973, defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding U.N. programs and others that promote abortion, and as we just heard, the fetal pain bill, where you support legislation to ban abortions after a point where the fetus becomes sentient to pain. On all of that, he issued his own strong statement.
His problem is one of the statements in the pledge implies that — or can be interpreted to mean that — if some subsidiary or auxiliary of a large, say, chain of hospitals is engaged – even in a peripheral way – in abortions, the federal government can’t provide Medicaid or Medicare to any of those hospitals. Which is an absurdity, and that’s why he didn’t want to sign. And the Susan B. Anthony List itself later issued a statement saying it wanted to exclude that. So in fact, it endorsed the Romney position.
I think he’s made a strong statement. I’m not vouching for what lies deep in his heart. You can never do that with any candidate on anything. But his statement is extremely strongly pro-life. …
If I could make one remark on the idea of signing a pledge in general — every candidate ought to be able to frame a major issue with his own words. That’s what is wrong with a pledge. It’s written by others and it constrains you. That’s why even pledges on taxes are not useful. You ought to say what you want. [If] somebody else writes it — it can be misinterpreted.
As I’ve said before, if Mitt can accomplish his pro-life goals, then he’ll be the most effective pro-life president since Roe v. Wade. In fact, this may be the most solidly pro-life Republican field ever. And that is very deeply encouraging.