GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney got back-to-back endorsements from prominent pro-life groups Thursday, signaling that anti-abortion forces will overlook his previous pro-choice positions in their shared desire to defeat President Obama in the general election.
The Susan B. Anthony List threw its support behind Mr. Romney in a morning news release and National Right-to-Life, the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, followed suit with a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
“Now is the time to unite behind Gov. Romney in order to defeat the most ideologically pro-abortion president in our nation’s history,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. She added that her group plans to spend $10 million to $12 million in Senate and presidential battleground states “mobilizing pro-life voters to ensure victory.”
The group had endorsed Rick Santorum’s president bid in February, but the former Pennsylvania senator dropped out of the race this week, prompting the group to swing its support behind Mr. Romney, who says he has moved from pro-choice to pro-life over the course of his political career.
In making the announcement, Anthony List leaders said that Mr. Obama has proven to be an extremist on the abortion issue during his first term in office and highlighted how Mr. Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, appoint only constitutionalist judges to the federal bench and bar nongovernment organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving federal funding.
“The difference between Gov. Romney and President Obama couldn’t be clearer,” said Jane Abraham, chairwoman of the group’s board of directors.
Mr. Romney, though, has not seen eye-to-eye with the group throughout the campaign. He refused to sign the Anthony List pro-life pledge, which was supported by nearly all of the other GOP presidential candidates, including Mr. Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. The latter two remain in the presidential race but trail far behind Mr. Romney.
The group’s “pro-life presidential leadership pledge” required candidates to promise to appoint justices who will “not legislate from the bench” and to tap pro-lifers to Cabinet positions. It also called on them to end taxpayer funding for abortions here and overseas, and to sign legislation that supporters say would protect the life of an unborn child as soon as it is capable of feeling pain, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
The Romney camp cited restrictive language in the pledge on hospital funding and the selection of Cabinet members in declining to sign the pledge earlier this year.