Mitt Romney has long had a reputation as a flip-flopper, and now Salon reveals the full story behind his well-known change of heart on abortion. In 1994, Romney declared in a Senate debate with Ted Kennedy that though he was personally against abortion, he believed it should be "safe and legal" because a relative had died years prior after a botched back-alley abortion. By the time he ran for president in 2008, of course, he had done a 180 to become completely pro-life, both personally and politically. Until now, the story behind his relative's death had never been revealed.
Salon has discovered the never-revealed relative in question: Ann Keenan, whose older brother married Romney's older sister in the late 1950s. She died of an infection in 1963 at age 21, when Romney was 16, after what her death certificate calls a "criminal recent abortion." The story was hushed up, apparently in part because Romney's father was governor of Michigan at the time, though her obituary requested that donations be made to Planned Parenthood. Salon notes that many unclean abortion instruments and conditions often led to infections in the pre-Roe vs. Wade era; during that time, studies suggest as many as 5,000 US women per year died from illegal abortions. Click for the full story and more on its current implications for Romney. (Read more back-alley abortions stories.)