In both cases, Ryan said, the Court "'disqualified' a whole category of human beings" from constitutional protection, "with profoundly tragic results." Ryan has sought to remedy what he sees as the Court's error regarding the legal status of fetuses by supporting the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that "each human life begins with fertilization, cloning or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood."
Romney likewise claims to believe that "life begins at conception" -- not "from a theological standpoint," he said in a 2007 "Meet the Press" interview, but "from a political perspective," which presumably means the rights of fetuses should be legally enforceable. Still, although Romney was "always personally opposed to abortion," he was "effectively pro-choice" when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, promising he would not seek to restrict abortion rights. Later he had a "change of heart," but even today he believes, consistent with his Mormon faith, that "abortion should be permitted in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is threatened."
While that last exception can be justified on grounds of self-defense (albeit against a nonculpable "aggressor"), the other two cannot, and Romney has never clarified why rape or incest justifies taking an innocent life. Likewise the Mormon Church, which cites the biblical injunction against murder in condemning abortion but nevertheless does not take as hard a line as the Roman Catholic Church.
"For many people," Romney said in a 2007 presidential debate, abortion "is considered an act of murder." Evidently he is not one of those people.
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @jacobsullum. To find out more about Jacob Sullum and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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