Unwed Mother ‘Counseled’ by Mitt Romney
A single mother from Watertown claims Mitt Romney warned her a decade ago that she faced excommunication from the Mormon Church if she failed to follow his advice to give her newborn baby up for adoption through a church agency.
Romney, a Republican candidate for US Senate who has portrayed himself as a social moderate, acknowledges he urged the mother to give her baby up for adoption but strongly denies threatening to throw her out of the church if she did not follow his advice. He notes the woman did not heed his advice and was not excommunicated.
Yet Peggie Hayes, 34, said Romney, then a lay counselor for the local church, came to her home in 1984 shortly after she gave birth to her son, Dane. At the time, Hayes was divorced and had a 4-year-old daughter.
“He told me it was really important to give the baby up,” Hayes said. ”He told me he was a representative of the church and by refusing I was failing to comply with the church’s wishes and I could be excommunicated.”
Hayes said that, though she was shaken by the incident, she rejected Romney’s advice and eventually dropped out of the church.
Romney, who considers his counseling advice to Hayes confidential, received permission from Hayes yesterday to release a “limited statement” on the matter.
In the statement, Romney said he urged the adoption route because Hayes’ child was born out of wedlock. “This was Peggy’s second child,” he said. ”At the time, Peggy was not working, had no visible means of support and was living on welfare. She was also a member of a family that had had severe problems in many different ways which, to protect Peggy’s privacy, I will not go into in this statement.”
Romney also said Hayes’ allegations about possible sanctions is “simply not true.” He noted that, after their counseling sessions, she continued to have a relationship with his family and the Mormon Church provided her with welfare funds.
Hayes’ made her comments as Romney, seeking the GOP nomination to oppose US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, is trying to position himself as a Republican with a socially moderate image, much in the style of Gov. Weld.