Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is airing commercials that portray him as a moderate on the issue of reproductive rights. The ads say he supports abortion in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the woman. A column published this week in The Nation notes that this standard would nevertheless block more than 90 percent of all abortions in the United States.
Howard Pollack, a professor of health administration at the University of Chicago, argues that while Romney may be more moderate than Republicans like Todd Akin and Rick Santorum, his position would have an enormous impact on women’s health decisions. A 2004 survey found that fewer than 1 percent of women patients at 11 large abortion providers reported that they were pregnant due to rape or incest. Of course, it’s likely that some of those women were reluctant to disclose that they were victims of sexual attacks, but nevertheless the data suggests that a majority of women decide to end pregnancies for other reasons, including concerns they are too young to raise a child, can’t afford to do so or are otherwise unable to do so. Seven percent identified health health problems as the reason for terminating their pregnancies. Pollack writes,
Whatever moderate rhetorical gloss Governor Romney employs, his preferred policies would effectively end women’s right to choose. Allowing states to outlaw more than ninety percent of abortions in America is not a moderate stance.
Pollack also notes that requiring employers to include contraceptive coverage in insurance benefits would reduce unintended pregnancies, but Romney opposes such policies.