Romney said this evening, he never forced the Catholic Church to give out abortifacients. He said, that was all done voluntarily.
None of this happened then?
"In the end, neither amendment was included in the bill," said the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. "House Majority Leader John Rogers, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to defend the hospitals' right of conscience, made it clear during floor debate on July 21 that the House blocked the Senate amendment so that the 1975 conscience statute would continue to have full effect."
The conference provided me with a copy of this bulletin, and Rogers assured me its account was "accurate and true."
The Catholic Church still opposed the bill because it would facilitate abortions. But at least the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals had been preserved -- or so it seemed.
On July 25, 2005, Romney vetoed the bill -- even though it was clear his veto would be overridden.
He published an op-ed in the Boston Globe the next day explaining his decision. "The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception," he wrote. "The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception." Romney said the veto kept his pledge not to change the state's abortion laws.
Romney made no mention of the religious liberty issue in his op-ed. But then, the bill, as the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and the House majority leader understood it, did not allow coercion of Catholic hospitals.
On Dec. 7, 2005, a week before the law was to take effect, the Boston Globe ran a piece headlined: "Private Hospitals Exempt on Pill Law." The article said the state Department of Public Health had determined that the emergency contraception law "does not nullify a statute passed years ago that says privately run hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception."
Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. told the Globe: "We felt very clearly that the two laws don't cancel each other out and basically work in harmony with each other."
Romney spokesman Fehrnstrom told the Globe that Romney agreed with the Department of Public Health on the issue. The governor, he said, "respects the views of health care facilities that are guided by moral principles on this issue."
"The staff of DPH did their own objective and unbiased legal analysis," Romney's spokesman told the Globe. "The brought it to us, and we concur in it."
The Globe itself ruefully bowed to this legal analysis. It ran an editorial headlined: "A Plan B Mistake." "The legislators failed, however," the Globe said, "to include wording in the bill explicitly repealing a clause in an older statute that gives hospitals the right, for reasons of conscience, not to offer birth control services."
Liberals joined in attacking Romney's defense of Catholic hospitals. But that defense did not last long.
The same day the Globe ran its editorial, Romney held a press conference. Now he said his legal counsel had advised him the new emergency contraception law did trump the 1975 conscience law.
"On that basis, I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view," Romney said. "In my personal view, it's the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape."
According to Romney tonight, he wasn't involved in the enforcement, enforcement was volunteered.
The only person with the authority to "volunteer" Catholic Hospitals, is Cardinal O'Malley.
Is Romney accusing Cardinal O'Malley of voluntarily ordering Catholic Hospitals to give out abortifacients or is this another one of his bold-faced lies?