Mona Charen

The Republican primary voter -- assuming that the field of top candidates does not change -- is faced with no perfect options when it comes to the life issue. Mitt Romney's recent embrace of the pro-life label is not entirely convincing. As a candidate for the U.S. senate in 1994, Romney boasted that there was no difference between his position on abortion and his opponent's (Teddy Kennedy). When he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney promised to leave the state's liberal abortion laws untouched.

Now Romney urges voters to believe that "In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw where the harsh logic of abortion can lead -- to the view of innocent new life as nothing more than research material or a commodity to be exploited." Okaaaay. Maybe it was the philosophical insight that the soul is immanent in the human form at all stages of development, or maybe it was the imminence of the Republican primaries. Who knows? Just recently we learned that Mrs. Romney (like the Giulianis) has contributed to Planned Parenthood.

Not even John McCain can boast an utterly unblemished record on life. In 2000, when asked what he would do if his daughter were considering an abortion, McCain replied that he would convene a "family conference." In 1999 he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women to undergo dangerous and illegal operations." He clarified the next day, explaining that he has always supported the repeal of Roe. And he points to a 25- year record of pro-life votes in Congress. On the debit side, he supports using embryos for stem cell research.

Inchoate candidate Fred Thompson once filled out a questionnaire to the effect that he favored legalized abortion in the first trimester, but he now stands staunchly against abortion.

So there we are -- no perfect options.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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