Let’s put aside the fact that Eliza Dushku retweeted me for one brief moment.
What Mitt Romney did to Eliza’s mother, Judy (a fellow Mormon nonetheless) is despicable. Let me get the entire transcript from the book The Real Romney. (Please note for clarification, Exponent II is a forum for Mormon women to share their life experiences in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. Judy Dushku was part of Exponent II when they published this story.)
In the fall of 1990, Exponent II published in its journal an unsigned essay by a married woman who, having already borne five children, had found herself some years earlier facing an unplanned sixth pregnancy. She couldn’t bear the thought of another child and was contemplating abortion. But the Mormon church makes few exception in forbidding women to end a pregnancy. Church leaders have said that abortion can be justified in cases of rape or incest, when the health of the mother is seriously threatened, or when the fetus surely will not survive beyond birth. However, even those circumstances “do not automatically justify an abortion,” according to church policy.
The woman feared excommunication. She had come to love the church and couldn’t bear the thought of losing it, she said. It was her whole life. Then her doctors discovered she had a serious blood clot in her pelvis. She thought initially that this would be her way out - of course she would have to get an abortion. But the doctors, she said, ultimately told her that, with some risk to her life, she might be able to deliver a full-term baby, whose chance of survival they put at 50 percent. One day in the hospital, her bishop - later identified as Romney, though she did not name him in the piece - paid her a visit. He told her about his nephew who had Down syndrome and what a blessing it had turned out to be for their family. “As your bishop,” she said he told her, “my concern is with the child.” The woman wrote, “Here I-a baptized, endowed, dedicated worker, and tithe-payer in the church - lay helpless, hurt and frightened, trying to maintain my psychological equilibrium, and his concern was for the eight-week possibility in my uterus - not for me!”
Romney would later contend that he couldn’t recall the incident, saying, “I don’t have any memory of what she is referring to, although I certainly can’t say it could not have been me.” Romney acknowledged having counseled Mormon women not to have abortions except in exceptional cases, in accordance with church rules. The woman told Romney, she wrote, that her stake president, a doctor, had already told her, “Of course you should have this abortion and then recover from the blood clot and take care of the healthy children you already have.” Romney, she said, fired back, “I don’t believe you. He wouldn’t say that. I’m going to call him.” And then he left. The woman said that she went on to have the abortion and never regretted it. “What I do feel bad about,” she wrote, “is that at a time when I would have appreciated nurturing and support from spiritual leaders and friends, I got judgment, criticism, prejudicial advice, and rejection.”
One woman who had been active in the Exponent II organization was Judy Dushku, a longtime scholar of global politics at Suffolk University in Boston. At one point while Romney was stake president, Dushku wanted to visit the temple outside Washington to take out endowments, a sacred rite that commits Mormons to a lifetime of faithfulness to the church. She had never entered a temple before and was thrilled at the chance to affirm her dedication to a faith she’d grown up with and grown to love. Earlier in her life, temples had been off-limits to Mormons who, like Dushku, were married to non-Mormons. Now that rule had changed, and she was eager to go. But first she needed permission from her bishop and stake president.
After what she described as a “lovely interview” with her bishop and after speaking with one of Romney’s counselors, she went to see Romney. She wasn’t sure what to expect. Despite Romney’s willingness to allow some changes in 1993, he and Dushku had clashed over the church’s treatment of women. “He says something like ‘I suspect if you’ve gotten through both of the interviews, there’s nothing I can do to keep you from going to the temple,’” Dushku recalled. “I said, ‘Well why would you want to keep me from going to the temple?’” Romney’s answer, Dushku said, was biting. “He said, ‘Well, Judy, I just don’t understand why you don’t stay in the church.’” She asked him whether he wanted her to really answer that question. “And he said, ‘No, actually, I don’t understand it, but I also don’t care. I don’t care why you do. But I can tell you one thing: You’re not my kind of Mormon.’” With that, Dushku said, he dismissively signed her recommendation to visit the temple and let her go. Dushku was deeply hut. Though she and Romney had had their differences, he was still her spiritual leader. She had hoped he would be excited at her yearning to visit the temple. “I’m coming to you as a member of the church, essentially expecting you to say, ‘I’m happy for you,’” Dushku said. Instead, “I just felt kicked in the stomach.”
(Kranish, Michael, and Scott Helman. The Real Romney. New York: Harper, 2012. 126-28. Print.)
I am shocked and sickened at what Romney did to Eliza’s mother. To shame her of something that should be amazing and a commitment to faith. Instead she got this. Pitiful.