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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.

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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.

GLOBE: OK.

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.

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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 joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at bostonglobe.com/politicalhappyhour