The Reason Why Mitt Romney Was Once Pro-Choice

Salon's Justin Elliott investigates an illegal abortion's tragic consequences

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In 2005 Mitt Romney flipped his stance on abortion to pro-life in preparation for a run at the GOP presidential nomination. Before then, he maintained a muddled position: he wouldn't impose his personal beliefs on others. He publicly-shaped this pro-choice position in a 1994 Senate debate against Ted Kennedy where he explained that "I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion." That woman went unnamed until Salon's Justin Elliott investigated her death and published a profile on Monday morning.

Ann Keenan--the sister of Romney's brother-in-law--died of an infection in 1963 following an abortion procedure. Romney was 16 at the time and Keenan's death made enough of an impact to on him to become a debate talking point (watch below) against Ted Kennedy in 1994. As Elliott writes, "When he changed his abortion stance, Mitt Romney didn't make reference to Ann Keenan's case or discuss how her own tragic story meshed with his new stance, which effectively called for a return to the way things were when Keenan died." Her story can be read in full here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.