Mitt Romney's Heartless Advice to a Woman Whose Pregnancy Might Have Killed Her
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"I'm so touched and motivated by the basic Christian teachings that I learned all of my life in the Mormon church, that that's the language that reaches me the most deeply," she acknowledged in a 2007 interview with the investigative journalist Susan Mazur, an expert on Mormon polygamy cults. "I deeply value my membership and participation in the church. It is central to my life."
A year prior to Romney's Senate campaign, Dushku sought church permission to make a pilgrimage to the ornate LDS Washington, D.C., Temple (actually located in Kensington, Maryland).
She had wanted to "receive her endowment," a sacred ritual in which Mormons pledge their allegiance to God and their faithfulness to the church. Until recently, Mormons not married to a church member were not allowed to enter an LDS temple. Dushku had never been allowed to enter a temple before—anywhere—and she wanted to "affirm her faith." Her request required approval from both her bishop and, ultimately, her stake president, Mitt Romney.
After meeting with her bishop and one of Romney's counselors (she described the interviews as "lovely" and "affirming"), she went to meet with Romney, who, she said, was confrontational and contemptuous from the start.
In an account she gave to Michael Kranish and Scott Helman for their book The Real Romney (an edited excerpt of which appeared in the February 2012 issue of Vanity Fair), Dushku claims that Romney said something to the effect that "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 was startled that Romney would have the slightest interest in keeping her from making her sojourn. In fact, she says, he questioned her allegiance to the LDS religion.
"I just don't understand why you stay in the church," he said. She asked Romney if he really wanted to engage her in such a discussion. "No, actually," he replied. "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 recalls, Romney signed her papers and rather "dismissively" bid her adieu. She had come to Romney, in spite of their political differences, as an LDS spiritual leader and was hoping her enthusiasm to visit the temple would be met by Romney on an equal plane. Instead, Dushku told Kranish and Helman, that she felt like she had been "kicked in the stomach."
There was yet another problematic incident that took place during Romney's tenure as ward bishop, in 1984, involving another Mormon woman, Peggie Hayes. This story also first came to light a decade later during Romney's run for the Senate, when it was first reported in the Boston Globe.
Then 24 and active in the LDS church where Romney served as ward bishop, Hayes was a divorced, single mother of a 3-year-old daughter, living in the Boston area after having bounced around from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and then back to New England.
Her family had been close to the Romneys—she says that she served as a babysitter for the Romney children when she was a teenager—and she trusted Mitt Romney as a friend and mentor, even as a "father figure." When she was in high school, she recalls, Romney even offered her advice on dating.
In the winter of 1984, Hayes had recently given birth to a son, Dane, when Romney visited her home in the blue-collar neighborhood of Somerville. The Romneys had been good to Hayes, she says, hiring her to help clean their basement and then urging other friends to help her find odd jobs. She was expecting more of the same type of support during Romney's visit.