WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told anti-abortion rights activists his conversion on the issue is authentic Friday, following a week in which two of his GOP presidential rivals strongly questioned his commitment to the matter.
"My experience as governor taught me firsthand that the threat to our culture is real and those in a position to do so must take action to defend it," Romney said in a speech at the National Right to Life's annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri. "Times of decision are moments of great clarity. Before I was governor, the life issue was just that, an issue. But when responsibility for life or ending life was placed in my hands, I made the right decision. I chose life."
Romney also directly confronted recent suggestions from both the campaigns of Arizona Sen. John McCain and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback that a YouTube video shows the Massachusetts Republican embraced abortion rights even after he has said he started opposing them.
The video is taken from a May 2005 press conference - six months after he has said he converted on the issue - in which then-Gov. Romney says he is committed to maintaining the abortion rights laws in Massachusetts.
"Recently, I was attacked by one of my opponents because, when I ran for governor, I promised to maintain the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion in Massachusetts," he added. "Of course, I kept that promise. But in Massachusetts, that meant vetoing pro-choice legislation – as I consistently did as governor."
Brownback, as well as fellow presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, also addressed the conference Friday.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney