For Romney, Complex Contraception Politics

It’s not an issue he wants to talk about, but it’s one he’s finding it hard to avoid.

Romney in Denver yesterday. Gerald Herbert / AP

The battle over a federal requirement that church-backed organizations offer their employees access to contraception has put former Governor Mitt Romney in a complicated position. As critics have pointed out, he implemented — after initial objections — a law requiring Catholic hospitals to provide the “morning after pill,” though he has equated it with abortion.

But Romney has a personal reason for a nuanced stance on the issue, according to a recent biography by Ronald B. Scott.

Scott writes that three of his sons used in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have children. Romney has never publicly opposed in vitro fertilization, but the practice does draw objections only from part of the anti-abortion movement — the same wing that considers some contraceptives in fact, as Romney once put it, “abortifacients.”

At issue is the destruction of excess embryos, an issue that mirrors concerns about “Plan B” contraceptives.

“Their family, friends, and fellow church members seem well aware that three of the sons have wrestled with fertility issues in their own families and, to help things along, have sought solutions that are seemingly inconsistent with their father’s views on abortion and stem cell research,” Scott wrote.

The current battle, though, is less focused on the details of contraception than the notion that faith-based organizations should be free to make their own choices.

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