Scott Brown's abortion problem

When the Globe profiled would-be US Senator Scott Brown last month, I asked whether the attendant description of Brown as "basically in favor" of abortion rights was correct. I also made multiple attempts to get an answer from the Brown campain, to no avail.

Now the Globe has followed up with a story that explores the abortion positions of Brown and his Democratic rival, Martha Coakley. And the description of Brown's stance might cost him the votes of people who like the idea of a Republican Massachusetts Senator--but also worry about the long-term prospects for abortion rights

...Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, picked up the support of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life in this race, based on his position on issues including abortion, stem cells, and federal health legislation. He also opposes federal funding for abortion, supports strong parental consent rules for minors, and supports the ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion.

“We’re behind him,’’ said John Rowe, chairman of the group’s federal political action committee. “The pro-life vote is very important at this point. It can make a big difference.’’

The group did not support Brown in 2004, when, during his campaign for state Senate, he noted his support for Roe v. Wade. But Rowe said he believes that Brown’s position has evolved. “We always welcome people coming over to our side,’’ he said.

Brown declined requests for an interview to discuss his views on abortion, instead issuing a statement through a spokesman.

“While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America,’’ he said.

“I believe government has the responsibility to regulate in this area and I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial-birth abortion. I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.’’

In addition to his sponsorship of the Women’s Right to Know bill, Brown sponsored an amendment to a 2005 bill on emergency contraception that would have let emergency room doctors or nurses turn away rape victims if they had religious objections to providing emergency contraception....

“There is nothing that I can see that demonstrates that he would support abortion rights,’’ said Dianne Luby, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, which also endorsed Coakley.

Abortion may well be the most complex, highly charged social issue in American politics, and there's nothing wrong with Brown having a highly nuanced position. (Among other things, Globe reporter Stephanie Ebbert notes that he has supported buffer-zone requirements in the past.)

Still, some voters may worry that he'll follow the lead of Mitt Romney--after all, some key Romney advisers are working with Brown--and tack right on social issues, including abortion, if he wins election. If so, his reticence on this subject certainly won't help assuage those fears.

UPDATE: Thanks to Steven Ertelt, editor of, for linking to an item that elaborates on Mass. Citizens for Life's support of Brown.  That item reads, in part:

Jack Rowe, chairman of the MCFL PAC, emailed today to say that he is seeing movement in Brown's direction. "People are terribly upset about health care and asking what to do. Here is the very exciting part. We in Massachusetts can actually save the whole country from this awful health care. Our PAC has been supporting Scott Brown because he will be a pro-life vote in the Senate. Scott Brown will also vote against the health care bill. After the compromise bill comes out of conference, it must be approved again by each house. Brown will vote against the bill. That means there will not be 60 votes in the Senate. That means the bill will be defeated." That's a lofty goal but Rowe is encouraging pro-life advocates in Massachusetts to get involved in the special election. "Can we do it? We certainly can! Turn-out will be very small," he said -- adding that the pr-life movement could change the dynamics of the race of it gets mobilized.

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