' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Romney's convenient stand on abortion: Flip. Flop. Loop holes.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Romney's convenient stand on abortion: Flip. Flop. Loop holes.

Hard-hearted Romney then, no friend to women in trouble

More troubling information about the man who would be president, Mitt Romney, and his relationship to women is emerging. We wrote earlier about his encouraging a single mother to relinquish her child for adoption--threatening her with excommunication if she did not--but another story has come to light. It happened in 1983, the same summer that Romney infamously drove to his house at his gated lakefront community on Lake Huron with his Irish setter, Seamus, in a dog carrier lashed to the roof of the car. This became political fodder--cartoons, gags on late-night comedy, even a satirical song--but another incident that summer has been largely ignored until now. 

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." 

wives of Brigham Young
Brigham Young's wives in the late 1800s. Charming.
According to R.B. Scott, author of Mitt Romney: an Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, Romney's only concern was for the unborn fetus, not the health of the woman, not her other children. Author Scott, also a Mormon, interviewed Sheldon's 90-year-old father, Phil Hilton, about the incident: "I have never been so upset in my life," he told Scott. "[Romney] is an authoritative type fellow who thinks he is in charge of the world." Hilton was so offended by Romney's lack of sensitivity to her daughter's life that he ordered him out of his home. He told Scott he was fully prepared to throw Romney off his porch if he did not leave immediately. Romney left. 

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!"

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?

Judy Dushku: That’s right. And don’t ask me why, as it is hard to explain briefly. 
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. 

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

Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics “As a talented journalist, as a Mormon, and as a distant cousin, Ron Scott is able to skillfully pierce the carefully-crafted public image of Mitt Romney to provide a fascinating portrait of one of America’s most complicated political figures. The combination of dogged reporting, captivating writing, and familiarity with Romney’s background makes this insightful book required reading for anyone wanting to look beyond the Tin Man image of a man who could one day become president of the United States.”
—George E. Curry, Nationally syndicated columnist  Order on icon from amazon.


  1. Another typical right wing Christian hypocrite. According to those Christians life begins at conception. Yet according to an article by MotherJones no fewer than three of Mitt Romney's own children have relied on IVF treatments to produce some of his 18 grandchildren.

    IVF= Where infertile women shoot themselves up with mega doses of hormones until eggs start popping out of their ovaries like popcorn in a popcorn machine.

    They usually can harvest over 20 eggs per cycle. All the eggs get put in a petri dish and get fertilized with sperm.

    The petri dish with the fertilized eggs gets put in an incubator and the doctors choose only the strongest embryos and discard the excess embryos. The excess embryos either get frozen or discarded. Couples have the option of donating them to another couple (embryo adoption) but like most hypocrites they would rather have their excess embryos dumped down a sink drain than let another couple potentially raise their biological children but if IVF fails they will want to adopt another woman's baby...

    The embryos are then implanted into the infertile woman's womb. Most won't stick, many will die off. A lot of infertile women have to do multiple cycles of IVF. I would estimate that for every one successful IVF treatment that produces one birthed baby twenty embryos had to die for it. Abortion is also a safety net for IVF because if too many embryos implant many women choose to have (selective reductions).

    Of course if IVF fails too many times and they give up on having a bio baby most of them haul their rich hypocrite butts to the nearest Christian Save Baby Jesus adoption agencies where brainwashed naive girls are tricked into not having an abortion and discarding her one unwanted embryo so she can go through nine months of pregnancy crap and the agony of child birth to give her baby away to some rich infertile woman who thought nothing of destroying dozens and dozens of her own embryos trying to give birth to a biological baby with her failed IVF treatments before she settled for adoption.

    Some Christians argue that IVF is a gamble just like conceiving naturally because some fertilized eggs don't "stick" to the womb. Then why is the reason that most pro lifers are against the morning after pill is because one of the ways it stops women from getting pregnant is preventing a fertilized egg from sticking to the womb and they think that's too much like an abortion. Hypocrites....

    The whole Pro-Life movement is just a male ego issue of dominance and control. Women destroying dozens and dozens of embryos attempting to have a man's biological baby with IVF is ok because she's being a good submissive woman reproducing a man's genes and trying to have his babies. However when a woman wants to abort one single unwanted embryo because she is not ready to have a baby she is evil and wicked for rejecting a man's genes.

    It's not the destruction of embryos that offends men but it's the woman's power to choose and her being independent and living her own life and not being controlled by or attached to a male.

    More embryos are destroyed in IVF clinics than abortion clinics. Yet you never see Pro-Lifers picketing them.

    The people who are destroying the most embryos in America are wealthy, white, married 35-45+ year old IVF cycling women with infertility issues.

    Not the young black, latina, or lower class white women who the conservatives always blame. This is the most child loving and fertile demographic in America. The demographic the old rich white infertile women are begging for babies from.

    Let's call a spade a spade. If you are a Christian and believe that life begins at conception then IVF is mass abortion.

    Then according to those beliefs Romney's three children and their spouses who have had multiple IVF cycles are mass abortionists. Yet Romney claims to be against abortion. (for everyone else but his family..)

    So typical and predictable from the "Do as I say not as I do" conservative hypocrites.

  2. I was wondering if any of you here have experience with New Hope Family Services. I am prolife, which I only mention because of why I am looking, and am Catholic. My local Catholic group wants to have a prolife event but they want to connect it with New Hope. I'm uncomfortable with this. I really do not want it connected with any adoption agency and this agencies website makes me uncomfortable. I am an adoptive mom and I do not like the automatic connection of prolife and an adoption agency. I do not like the way the agencies "birth parent options" is worded and I just feel like they would be bad news. I really can't find anything on the internet and I was hoping you might have some info.

    To be clear I will not go to this event because of this. However, I am hoping open up the eyes of my friends and would like more to show them about the issue.


  3. WOW!

    Alot to digest! VERY eye-opening! I will certainly study your comment, Jill (tomorrow when I'm more awake).

    Thanks for your generosity and hard work!

  4. Anon: It's late and I will respond tomorrow. You may email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com.

  5. Anon,
    I don't know New Hope Family Service but I really appreciate your sensitivity.

  6. Jane is right, in that we do know anything about that agency but their website has a whole list of things that can go wrong if you have an abortion, which is antithetical to what I'm advocating in this blog. However, fewer abortions, undoubtedly more children for their clients.

  7. You say Judy Dushku calls herself a Mormon feminist like it's not a real thing. Mormon feminism is alive and well and can be found in blogs all over the internet, Facebook groups, conferences, and in Mormon churches. Utah was the second state to give women the right to vote (second only to WY)years before the country allowed us to, and Utah women were the very first women to participate in elections. None of the Mormon feminists I know like Mitt Romney or would ever vote for him. The Exponent is also alive and well and can be found http://www.the-exponent.com/ and a great Mormon feminist site is http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/

    You will not finding any shrinking violets among this crowd of women.

  8. Starlight:

    good point. Not sure how to fix what you point out. Let me think on it. But thanks for your comment and information.

  9. Starlight: You are right. I took out the whole sentence.

  10. I wanted to thank you all for your help. I can't really find anyone who knows anything for sure. I think the website for the agency is a wreck. I don't like anything it says at all. I think that the whole thing is a train wreck. Like you said for them less abortion means more clients. I am completely against abortion - but that has nothing to do with adoption - and even though there is a connection of sorts I don't think the adoption agency belongs anywhere near there.

    I have been fighting with my group for months and they just don't get it. This is the first event that has come out and my family and I will not go and I am stepping down from the committee. I just wish that they would understand - I don't know how to make them get it. Grrr!!! Thanks!


  11. @Anonymous

    You can also try helping them get it, by using countries where adoption is almost non-existent, as an example. Because those countries also very very few abortions compared to the US. The U.S promotes adoption more than any other country in the world, but it still has more abortions than any other developed country.


    Hope this helps.

  12. I wasn't going to comment here any more because it's too exhausting When I was pregnant with my son,in order to get Medicaid which paid for the delivery, I had to get a doctor's note saying I was pregnant(as if I didn't know and it was becoming obvious at 5 months). I've been afraid of doctors because I was molested by one when I was 9.So, my mother called the local hospital and asked for one of the few women OBGYN's available. She offered to do an abortion wrongly assuming that's what I wanted and acting like she was doing me a favor. So, my mother called Catholic Charities and that's how I ended up at an unwed mother's home. I had been planning to stay home but I didn't trust doctors They treated us like children at the home(which I liked at the time) and the doctor was kind, but when my son was born he walked into my room ,saw me holding him and said"College is expensive" Really, that's the first thing he said and the pressure was on. I have very mixed feelings about all of this. As for the abortion-happy woman doctor, I later heard that she told another Catholic woman that some medication she had taken caused birth defects The woman had an abortion and when she found out that the doctor was mistaken the doctor apologized, but the woman sued her and won. None of these situations are easy Women get hurt no matter which way they turn

  13. Moonstar,

    Thanks for the link/
    We've written a fair amount comparing the adoption rates in the US with that elsewhere. Sadly, we are the country with the most robust "stork market."



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