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William Hurlbut MD

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Dr. Jack Wilke on “Romney’s Conversion”

Dr. Jack Willke is an unimpeachable pro-life activist. He has taught many of us both why and how to protect life over the years. I was reassured to read his account of the pro-life conversion of Mitt Romney on LifeSite News and that Dr. Willke (and Dr. Hurlbut) are secure in believing that it’s genuine

The first part of the article outlines the work Dr. Willke did with George H. W. Bush when Bush was named as Vice Presidential running mate with Ronald Reagan. The last part is about Governor Romney’s conversion:


As this is written, Barack Obama has proven to be the most pro-abortion president of modern times and he is now seeking a second term. Former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Presidential slot in November. Naturally, some have questioned his pro-life credentials and convictions so let’s examine the details of Governor Romney’s conversion.

When he was first elected Governor of Massachusetts, it was generally presumed that his position was “prochoice.” However, about half way into his first term as governor in 2005, Romney announced that he was opposed to embryonic stem cell research and proceeded to veto a bill making the “Morning After,” plan B contraceptive pills available. In the same year, he declared that he was pro-life.

Governor Romney tells us that he changed his mind in November 2004. At that time, he was obviously searching and had questions. He met with Douglas A. Melton, PhD, a scientist from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute on November 9. In that interview the Governor said this researcher told him, “Look, you don’t have to think about this stem cell research as a moral issue because we kill the embryos after fourteen days.” This had a major impact on Romney and his chief of staff, as they saw it recognizing that such embryonic stem cell research in fact was killing what they were convinced were human lives already in existence. Later, through a spokesperson, Dr. Melton disputed that he used the word “kill.”

But Governor Romney, wanting to know more, consulted with one of the best people available in February 2005. This expert was William B. Hurlbut, a physician and professor at Stanford University Medical Center Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Hurlbut is a dedicated pro-lifer.

The two of them met for several hours, discussing the issue in great detail. They went through the dynamics of conception, embryonic development and repercussions of the various research and experimentation that has been going on aimed at exploring the first weeks after fertilization. At that point, Romney was under intense pressure to change a state law that, at the time, still protected human embryos from lethal stem cell research. Some of the pressure came from Harvard, his own alma mater. After this in-depth consultation, Romney stated that he was pro-life.

Asked about their meeting by columnist Kathleen Parker, Dr. Hurlbut said, “Several things about our conversation still stand out strongly in my mind. First, he clearly recognized the significance of the i s s u e, not just as a current controversy, but as a matter that would define the character of our culture way into the future. Second, it was obvious that he had put in a real effort to understand both the scientific prospects and the broader social implications. Finally, I was impressed by both his clarity of mind and sincerity of heart. He recognized that this was not a matter of purely abstract theory or merely pragmatic governance, but a crucial moment in how we are to regard nascent human life and the broader meaning of medicine in the service of life.”

Similar to my time with President H. W. Bush, Dr. Hurlbut presented Governor Romney with sound scientific and medical information. The Governor responded by changing his position to support the protection of innocent human life from the point of fertilization. He declared himself pro-life and has repeatedly done so since that time.

For over twenty years, Life Issues Institute has been solely dedicated to prolife education. It has been my primary contribution to the pro-life movement since the 1960s. Our strength comes from the central fact that we are daily changing the hearts and minds of Americans on abortion. And our efforts have greatly be en assisted by science. The tool of ultrasound has resulted in an entire generation having their first baby picture taken within the womb, and it’s greatly impacted people’s opinion on abortion. Every pro-life individual and organization should rejoice when anyone—political or otherwise—responds to the unmistakable fact that human life begins at fertilization and that it should be protected.

Life Issues Institute and I are confident that Governor Romney’s conversion is real, heartfelt and authentic. Since the Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization, we cannot endorse a political candidate. As such, this article should not be construed as an endorsement of Governor Romney’s candidacy but rather a testament to the fact that we believe Mitt Romney is truly pro-life.

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