Mitt Romney's Heartless Advice to a Woman Whose Pregnancy Might Have Killed Her
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Romney, who was trying to position himself as a "social moderate" in one of the most liberal states in the union, was clearly irritated by both the Hayes and Sheldon revelations finding their way into the media.
In their initial reporting on the incidents, Phillips and Lehigh included a revelatory caveat about Romney's response to the charges. "While some of his actions as a church leader appear to contradict the image he is projecting as a candidate," they noted, "Romney says he was only carrying out the policies set by church elders. He has repeatedly said that, if elected, his church views would not affect public issues." (Emphasis added.) Romney was trying to distance himself from the church—and from his own record as a leader in it—as early as 1994.
Hayes didn't buy Romney's explanation then, and she doesn't buy it today. "If he was so married to the church policies then," she asks, "how is he going to shut it off if he's president?"
According to Hayes, Romney called her directly in 1994 when the story was about to break and asked her if she'd be willing to talk. Her son was about 10 at the time. She says that they spoke for about "an hour and a half." Romney, she said, "never got her name right once" in the entire conversation.
Hayes, who eventually completed her master's degree at Emerson College and today serves as Coordinator of Volunteers for the Watertown Free Public Library outside of Boston, says that "I made absolutely the best decision for that kid. He is a wonderful kid, and he loves being with me. If there is a God, I think the last thing he would have wanted is for me to give my son away just on somebody else's decision."
Hayes says that she and her son, now working as an electrician in Salt Lake City (and is not a member of the LDS Church), have "an extremely close" bond. "When I'm with my son," she says, "I know who I am. He didn't belong anywhere but with me."
When he was still an infant, Hayes says, her son needed special surgery. "I called [Romney] to come to the hospital and asked him for his blessings. He was still our bishop, our spiritual leader. He didn't come to the hospital to check up on me or my son when he was sick," says Hayes. "He sent somebody else, two people I didn't even know. That's because he didn't really care. I was really reaching out, and for him not to come, well, that was really hurtful. Once I didn't adhere to his dictates and the dictates of the church, he was done with me and my son."
And Hayes was done with the church. She, too, like Carrel Hilton Sheldon a year earlier, eventually dropped out of the church. "My son was a gift to me," she says. "And there was simply no way the church was going to take him."
These stories involving Mormon women of different age and different status in the church community—and all taking place when Romney was in a hierarchical (and, indeed, patriarchal) position of power over them—form an alarming, composite pattern of Romney's leadership career for more than a decade in the LDS Church.
"Romney just doesn't have any sensitivity to women's issues in general," says Dushku. "But even more than that, he genuinely believes he's always right, that he's never made a mistake. He can never say, 'I might have made a mistake, I didn't understand that.' In Mitt's view, no one else has anything else to offer. He's always right."