March 25, 2005


Roe v. Wade omitted from proclamation (Scott S. Greenberger, March 25, 2005, Boston Globe)

Governor Mitt Romney removed a reference to Roe v. Wade in a proclamation he signed this week, raising eyebrows among abortion rights advocates who say the move corresponds with a rightward shift by Romney as he mulls a presidential bid.

Signed by Massachusetts governors since 1996, the annual proclamation establishes a ''Right to Privacy Day" to mark the anniversary of Baird v. Eisenstadt, a 1972 Supreme Court ruling legalizing birth control for unmarried people. The previous years' proclamations cited the historic Roe court decision that legalized abortion, saying that Baird v. Eisenstadt was ''a decision that was quoted six times in subsequent cases, including Roe v. Wade."

In this year's proclamation, which Romney signed this week, there is no reference to Roe v. Wade. [...]

The change in the Massachusetts proclamation has no practical effect, and leading abortion-rights advocates said they were not aware of it until a Globe reporter called them seeking their comment. But the abortion-rights advocates said the senior staff members' sudden concern about the Roe v. Wade reference fits a pattern of shifting language by Romney, who described himself as supporting the status quo on abortion when he ran for governor in 2002.

''We are very concerned about the direction that he's heading in, the change in style and rhetoric around a whole host of issues -- abortion is one of those, of course," said Erin Rowland, a spokeswoman for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. ''He described himself as being in favor of the status quo when he ran for governor. A number of people used the term 'prochoice' to describe him."The change in wording was discovered by Bill Baird, the plaintiff in Eisenstadt v. Baird. Baird was arrested for displaying birth control devices and giving a package of contraceptive foam to an unmarried female student at Boston University in 1967; he appealed the case to the Supreme Court. He said he has little doubt that Romney's removal of the Roe v. Wade language was politically motivated.

''Why would he take it out? He would take it out because he wanted to stay as far away from the abortion issue as he could," Baird said.

Because he wants to be president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 25, 2005 7:37 AM
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