|Hard-hearted Romney then, no friend to women in trouble|
A pregnant woman and a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS or Mormon) had a life-threatening blood clot lodged in her pelvic region. Carrel Hilton Sheldon was in her late thirties, had four teenage children, and had lost fifth in childbirth. This was her sixth pregnancy. To treat the clot, Sheldon was administered an overdose of the blood thinner Heparin in the eighth week of her pregnancy, which led to massive internal bleeding and extensive damage to her kidneys. She might even need a kidney transplant. Given the fatal repercussions to her, she and her husband faced the great likelihood that the fetus was also severely damaged.
The LDS stake president in Massachusetts was a Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Gordon Williams. He counseled Sheldon to follow her doctor's advice and terminate the pregnancy to save her life. “Of course, you should have this abortion and then recover from the blood clot and take care of the healthy children you already have," she recalls him saying. A stake president is a male volunteer in the church who is in charge of several Mormon congregations, called wards or branches; bishops in the church, also volunteers, are the spiritual leaders of the wards, and as such, are below the stake presidents in the hierarchy. At the time Romney was 36 and a rising star in the church, and Sheldon's bishop.
According to an account that Sheldon wrote anonymously for the LDS women's journal, Exponent II, and an interview with a friend of Sheldon's, Romney paid her an uninvited visit late that summer (after returning from Canada) in her hospital room and urged her to have the child, all medical advice to the contrary. He talked about his sister who has a a retarded child, and what a blessing the child was. "He told me that 'as your bishop, my concern is with the child.'" Not only was there no empathy forthcoming from Romney, he said he doubted the stake president's approval, and said he would call him. "At a time when I would have appreciated nurturing and support from spiritual leader and friends," Sheldon wrote, "I got judgment, criticism, prejudicial advice and rejection."
|Brigham Young's wives in the late 1800s. Charming.|
When confronted about the incident by reporters from the Boston Globe in 1994—little more than a decade afterward—Romney claimed no memory of the incident. You can bet that Sheldon has not forgotten.
Now living on the West Coast, she is no longer a member of LDS. "Here I—a baptized, endowed, dedicated worker, and tithe-payer in the church—lay helpless, hurt, and frightened, trying to maintain my psychological equilibrium," she wrote, "and his concern was for the eight-week possibility in my uterus—not for me!"
FLIP-FLOPPIN' ON ABORTION: HE WAS TOLD HE COULD
Romney's flip-flopping on just about all issues has been covered extensively, but his stand on women's rights and abortion, and even contraception, is what concerns us here. According to a former friend of his and a LDS member today, Judy Dushku, his position on abortion has changed with the expediencies of politics. Dushku is no light-weight throwing pot shots. She has been a professor of government for 40 years and she now teaches at Suffolk University in Massachusetts where she is the Fulbright Senior Specialist. Dushku was an editor of Exponent II, and knew Sheldon well, when she asked her to write a piece describing what had happened to her. The magazine agreed to publish the story anonymously.
The following is from an interview with Dushku by a respected journalist, Susan Mazur:
Judy Dushku: Then in 1994, when Romney was running for the Senate, he came out in favor of choice for women -- which was surprising to me. I was pleased and called, asking to see him. I told him I suspected that we had our differences, but that maybe I could work with him if he’d come to a really good position on women and childbirth.
And he said – Yes, come to my office.
I went to his office and I congratulated him on taking a pro-choice position. And his response was – Well they told me in Salt Lake City I could take this position, and in fact I probably had to in order to win in a liberal state like Massachusetts. [Yow! Emphasis definitely added.]
Suzan Mazur: Who’s “THEY”?
Judy Dushku: I asked him the same question. And he said “the Brethren” in Salt Lake City.
And I said, Mitt, it doesn’t make me happy to hear that. What you’re suggesting is that you’re not genuinely pro-choice. It’s a position of convenience. He said – Oh no, I actually had an aunt who died of a botched abortion. So I have some positive feelings about choice, but basically I know that I have to take that position.
So I said – How do you feel about choice for poor women and state funding of abortion for poor women?
He said, I’m against that. The state has no right or responsibility to fund abortions for poor women.
And I said – Well Mitt, I thought there was possibly some kind of room for mutual agreement on this issue but it appears there’s really not. I think we’re quite far apart on the issue of choice. It’s nice meeting with you here and talking with you. Good luck with your campaign, however, I can’t support you.
Suzan Mazur: Is a member of the LDS church answerable first to the church and then to family and professional calling next.
Judy Dushku: Yes, but with an understanding that loyalty to family is very important. My husband is not a Mormon and no one in the church would criticize me for my loyalty to him.
Suzan Mazur: But while you have a certain skepticism about the religion, you don’t have any inclination to leave the religion?In the last week, Romney was again asked about his ever-changing position on a woman's right to choose: “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” Romney told the Des Moines Register’s editorial board. He added, however, that he would use an executive order to ban U.S. foreign aid from being used to perform or promote abortions, meaning that he would end any aid to any organization that say, feeds children or takes care of women--but also performs abortions. Previous Republican presidents have also done this.
Judy Dushku: That’s right. And don’t ask me why, as it is hard to explain briefly.
FORGET NOT THE SUPREME COURT
What he was not asked was about is the Supreme Court. Probably because it is a given that if elected, Romney will appoint justices who would be committed to rolling back Roe v. Wade. Also, the National Right to Life Committee, which endorses Romney, lists 23 "Key Bills in Congress" that it supports. According to political writer William Salatan, writing the The Cap Times, three of the bills have more than a voting majority. Most of these bills deal with late-term abortion, public funding, parental notification and the right of health care institutions to withhold abortions or abortion information--issues on which Romney has made clear he’ll stand with pro-lifers. If these bills get to his desk, he’ll sign them. But for now, he can claim not to be “familiar” with them. FMF belelives all women should have the right to make their own decisions regarding their reproduction, something that was legally denied us for centuries. We believe that if a woman has a baby, every effort should be made for her to keep him and raise him.
Mitt Romney is a real threat to that reproductive freedom. He is a threat to the right of women to control their own bodies. He is a real threat to the health care of poor women. We have seen that he encourages single women to give up their babies to be adopted. We have seen no change in this policy from "his brethern" in Salt Lake City, the headquarters of LDS. Romney's vacant claims, and that of his wife, that he "loves" women--all women--would seem to mean he loves them as long as they do as told by their "bishops." Reproductive freedom, all reproductive freedom, is endangered if Romney is elected the next president of the United States.--lorraine
See also: I was raped and I gave a baby up for adoption. Guess which was worse.
Bishop Romney's Sadistic Anti-Abortion Counseling
Mitt Romney's Pregnancy Problem
Romney says abortion legislation isn’t part of his agenda
William Saletan: Romney’s weasel words on abortion
Judith Dushku, Associate Professor
From FMF: Romney urges single woman to give up her baby--or be outcast from LDS
Akin, GOP to women: We are in charge of your bodies, no exceptions for rape
Unless invited, please stay out of my vagina
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