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Mitt Romney and the abortion he doesn’t talk about any more

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Summary of story from Salon, August 8, 2011

Mitt Romney, potential US presidential candidate, has a family history which has been touched by the grief of death caused by an unsafe illegal abortion.

With access to abortion increasingly restricted in many states, and the possibility that a Republican victory in 2012 will tilt the balance of the Supreme Court against Roe v. Wade, Romney’s account of how a back-alley abortion affected his own family is more relevant than ever.

The story was first revealed in a 1994 Senate debate with Ted Kennedy, and the incident shaped Romney’s now-abandoned stance: at that time he was in favour of safe and legal access to abortion for all women.

The relative was a Detroit woman named Ann Keenan, the sister of Romney’s brother-in-law.

She died at the age of 21 in 1963, a full decade before Roe v. Wade, [a landmark legal decision on the right for abortion] in an era when obtaining an abortion meant risking serious injury or – as in this case – death.

The story also represents a key part of Romney’s political journey on the issue of abortion, which has more than any other tarred him as a flip-flopper.

Once he changed his stance on abortion, Romney made no further reference to Ann Keenan’s fate nor has he discussed how her tragic story meshed with his new – anti-abortion – position, which effectively calls for a return to the way things were when Ms Keenan died.

Abortion continues to be a contentious point for Romney.

In June, he declined to sign a pledge by the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, arguing that it would require signatories to defund thousands of hospitals that offer abortion services.

But Romney maintained that he would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, that he opposed Roe, and that “abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”

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