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Once ‘personally pro-life,’ Walsh trumpets abortion rights credentials

Mayor Martin J. Walsh.AFP/Getty Images/file 2015

Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston recieved a “Men for Choice” award from an abortion rights group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Monday night at a cocktail reception on Beacon Hill with many top political leaders.

But back in 2001, when Walsh was a Dorchester state representative, he was quoted in the Boston Herald as saying he is “personally pro-life.”

Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, said Walsh’s “position has changed over time.”

She explained that the group gives “this award to elected officials who take a real leadership role in protecting reproductive freedom. And he’s done that.”

Walsh, for his part, indicated he has indeed evolved on the issue in an interview with the Globe.


BOSTON GLOBE: Are you still personally pro-life?

MARTIN J. WALSH: I guess, at this point, I don’t even know what the context was in that article. I wouldn’t say I’m personally pro-life. I would just say I’m a pro-choice candidate, I’m a pro-choice mayor, I was a pro-choice legislator. What I mean by “personally pro-life” at the time was, like, I’m personally, my feelings personally, I guess, I believe in life. I don’t even know where I came up with that. But, since that time, as far as a legislator, I’ve always supported and voted for a woman’s right to choose. I’ve always supported legislation for a woman’s right to choose. And as mayor — I ran as an open, pro-choice candidate for mayor. If I ran for any higher office, I’m pro-choice. I would probably never use the word “personally pro-life” ever again.


WALSH: In 2001, that was kind of like a — I think a lot of legislators were trying to figure out where they were going with different things as they were moving forward and I think that you evolve over time. And so what that means: there’s really no such thing as personally pro-life.


GLOBE: There is. There are people who say, you know what, I’m Catholic and my Catholic faith says no to abortion, but, as a public official, I’m not going to do anything to change the status quo.

WALSH: Yeah, but I think you can get criticized for that statement today. In 2001, you would get criticized, but it was a little different. It’s like evolution. Things change over time. I think there’s clear lines today.

GLOBE: So you would no longer characterize yourself as “personally pro-life?”

WALSH: Yeah, I wouldn’t say that.

Joshua Miller can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at