Romney’s shaky record on abortion draws attack from left and right

As Saturday’s South Carolina primary voting draws close, presidential candidate Mitt Romney is being savaged on the right for his shifting stance on abortion, just as he was savaged months ago on the left for his shifting stance on abortion.

Today, primary-rival Newt Gingrich’s super PAC, Winning Our Future, launched a video that fits, like attack-campaign yin and yang, with a video launched by the Democratic National Committee in November.

“Think you know Mitt. He claims to be pro-life,” says the ad narrator. The comes footage of Romney when he was running for governor of Massachusetts in which he unabashedly supports abortion rights and the right of minors seeking abortions to win consent from judges rather than their parents.

The DNC ad is similarly foreboding, complete with dark music and blood-red text underliner.

The inevitable left and right attacks on Romney’s stands on abortion actually serve to dampen the urgency to know where he stands on the issue because they underscore the larger, main issue of the Romney candidacy, which is the fact that no one can be sure what Romney thinks from one moment to the next about major policy issues, including one of the most charged political issues of the contemporary American life.

Romney mostly avoided campaigning in Iowa caucuses in the fall because the predominant evangelical Christian Republican voters there make social issues a top priority.

South Carolina primary voters are similarly concerned with issues like gay marriage and abortion but the state has become a key southern peg in the GOP nomination contest, too important to coast through. A multimillionaire former private equity CEO, Romney’s strategy so far has been to veer to discussion about the economy, or more accurately, to discussion of President Obama’s “socialism” and “politics of class envy.”

Romney decided to avoid altogether a voter Q&A forum hosted today in South Carolina by Colorado-based Personhood USA. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are all slated to attend.

The forum questions Romney would have faced were sure to be loaded.

Romney has refused to sign a pledge sponsored by Personhood USA and, according to the group, is “the only Republican Presidential Candidate who is not participating in the Presidential Prolife Forum, and the only candidate who has not signed Personhood USA’s Prolife Presidential Pledge.”

Romney told Mike Huckabee on Fox News in November that he “absolutely” would “support the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception.” Huckabee was talking unequivocaly about personhood. It is that exchange that fueled the November DNC attacks.

Romney drew fire last year for refusing to sign an anti-abortion pledge sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List, a Washington-based advocacy group. He said the pledge was “overly broad” and published his own version on his website. He espoused support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion, and promised that, as president, he would “support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood.”