Romney abortion comment draws Democratic criticism
October 10th, 2012
12:25 AM ET
2 years ago

Romney abortion comment draws Democratic criticism

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in an interview on Tuesday that he has no abortion-related legislation on his platform but that he would reinstate a policy banning nongovernmental organizations from using federal funds to provide abortions.

"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney said in an interview with The Des Moines Register.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"One thing I would change, however, which would be done by executive order, not by legislation, is that I'd reinstate the Mexico City policy which is that foreign aid dollars from the US would not be used to carry out abortion in other countries," he continued.

The policy has generally been implemented by Republican administrations and dropped by Democratic presidents. President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.

Obama's campaign quickly accused Romney of "playing politics" with abortion as it continues to try to question his convictions on issues that helped him earn the Republican nomination but have shifted more to the center in the general election campaign.

After Romney's remarks were published online, Romney's campaign spokeswoman reiterated that he is opposed to abortion.

"Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president," Andrea Saul said in a statement.

Earlier Tuesday, the conservative site National Review Online published a different statement from Saul: "Governor Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life."

Obama's campaign said Romney's "statement contradicts his pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade," the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming a woman's right to have an abortion.

The Democratic National Committee pointed reporters to a June 2011 opinion piece published in the National Review Online in which the candidate identifies a piece of legislation for which he would advocate as president.

"I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion," Romney wrote in the piece, headlined "My Pro-Life Pledge."

In that piece, Romney also expressed his support for overturning Roe v. Wade, disavowing federal funds from being spent on abortions, and said he would nominate judges in line with his views.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement, that "women simply can't trust (Romney)."

"It's troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues. But we know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose – he's said he'd be delighted to sign a bill banning all abortions, and called Roe v. Wade 'one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history' while pledging to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn it," she said.

Romney has said that he would nominate for any Supreme Court vacancies candidates who would support overturning Roe v. Wade.

In campaign appearances and on his website, Romney has said he would "end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood" and specifically expressed his support for the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 measure which bans federal monies appropriated to the Health and Human Services Department from being used to fund abortions.

The candidate has been criticized for changing positions on the issue of abortion, dating back to his run for governor of Massachusetts.

"With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I'm going to keep the laws as they exist in the state," Romney said at a debate in Iowa on December 15.

"And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice. Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn't just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill."
Romney explained that he wrote an op-ed in The Boston Globe explaining his personal opposition to abortion.

The Republican candidate has this cycle expressed his opposition to abortion, with the exception of cases of rape.

Rape is not an exception in the Republican Party platform adopted in Tampa this summer, nor was it an exception Rep. Paul Ryan – who in August joined Romney's ticket – supported, though Ryan said he supports Romney's position on the issue.

The issue of abortion was briefly in the spotlight earlier this year when Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, made controversial comments about "legitimate rape."

He claimed in a television interview that "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy, saying that "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Romney distanced himself from those comments and called for Akin to exit the race.


Filed under: 2012 • Abortion • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,031 Responses)
  1. Evolved One

    Old men telling women what to do with their bodies.....old men, please f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fade away!

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Deej59

    It sure gets annoying watching this guy flip-flop. I've never been a fan of that term because the right uses it to label anyone in politics (and on the left side of the aisle) when they are often simply in possession of new information that has caused them to change their minds. In this case, we have Romney constantly changing positions and then changing them back, depending on who he is speaking to at that moment. Thanks to the Net we are able to look up his words from day to day. Try that, why don't you? You only have to go through a random week of speeches to find it. It's not subtle. He's apt to say anything at this point.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. HenryMiller

    "banning ... using federal funds to provide abortions."

    Sounds like a good compromise to me. Abortions aren't the proper concern of any government, either banning them or paying for them, and there's certainly no Constitutional basis for doing either.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. REPUBS 4 OBAMA

    Romney isn't pro life or pro choice...He's "multiple choice"

    –The late great Teddy Kennedy

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. ctom312

    I am a democrate, on this one thing, I am closer to the GOP position. Look folks, I think the US will end up adopting the Islamic teachings on abortion just like France did. Moderation is key you cannot play with life of the mother nor of the baby and the weaker one gets precedence over the other. This is what Islam says.

    October 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. i'm confused

    Wow that's actually really scary that Mittens plans to attack a woman's right to choose through the courts instead of through the legislative process..... If the Supreme Court were to rule abortion as unconstitutional, that would be a much more permanent limitation to women's rights than simply getting a law that is also subject to legal challenge passed through the legislative process.

    October 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. teena

    Mr Etch a scketch changes his position again? No suprise there–he runs an ultra conservative platform during the primary to appease the tea party and now he runs a moderate campaign to appease the independents–so no one REALLY knows where he stands accept Mitt and that may change tomorrow according to which way the money blows!

    October 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    Mittens is a say-anything flip-flopper without a core, who some folks think won a debate against President Obama simply because he was hyped up and willing to lie through his teeth.

    For a supposed "business guy," he's proposing policies that, when you run the numbers, will obviously further add to the deficit, using the same trickle-down method that everyone knows doesn't result in creating jobs here in the U.S.

    His running mate, Lyin' Ryan, says the "math" behind their plan would take too long to explain. (Hey, if you don't have the time, Munster, drop it off and we'll look it over!)

    We're just supposed to somehow trust these fools about anything? Pffffft!

    Obama/Biden 2012 = 31 straight months of private sector growth and counting!

    October 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. i'm confused

    Wow that's actually really scary that Mittens plans to attack a woman's right to choose through the courts instead of through the legislative process. If the Supreme Court were to rule abortion as unconstitutional, that would be a much more permanent limitation to women's rights than simply getting a law that is also subject to legal challenge passed through the legislative process.

    October 10, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Romney's policy is the same as any Republican president regarding abortion. Don't give federal funds to foreign abortions, uphold current laws, and appoint new justices that will help return Roe v. Wade to the states

    October 10, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  11. joe

    There is just too much momentum at this point for Romney to lose this race. More and more voters do not see Obama recovering, no matter what they say...unless Romney does something spectacularly bad...and the truth is that no matter who is president, the ruling on the field stands..for over 40 years..I do not think this will ever be overturned...

    October 10, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Laurie in Spokane

    ...."Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life and he will be a pro-life president".......
    Actually Mitt Romney doesn't really KNOW who he is. He just kind of swaaaaays in the wind – first pro-choice, now pro-life; first in favor of sending all the illegal immigrants back to where they came from, now sucking up to the Latinos for their vote....... Hey, why not pick a stance and stick with it? Oh, I forgot, people sometimes have short memories, and maybe he's counting on their forgetting what he's said in the past. Not a really trusty person don't ya think?

    October 10, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. travis

    The Etch-a-Sketch has been shook.

    October 10, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. RomNuts

    Whatever the issue, whatever the question, Romney is both for and against it. And he is firm on that position.

    October 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. annieL

    What does it matter what he says today, yesterday or tomorrow? He's trying to close a deal, the biggest deal of his life. I imagine this is how big money deals get closed. You tell one person this, another person that, calm the fears and suspicions of a third person, keep it all vague, juggle the figures to make them show what you want them to and all parties believe their version of Romney's deal is the "real" version. After the paper is signed, the lawyers and accountants figure out what the paper says and declare the winners and losers. Romney and the secular power brokers in his party, who could care less about unborn life or the lives of women, know that if a Republican presides over the overthrow of Roe v. Wade or legislate anything close to the party plank of "No abortions under any circumstances," it will be the death of the Republican Party. But he has to buy the votes of the Taliban Republicans while seducing just enough undecided social moderates to win the swing states. Can he seal the deal? Maybe. He's a shrewd businessman. That much we know.

    October 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. Biohazard

    Romney is can not be trusted. He will say anything to get elected.

    October 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. MLsports123

    Get over yourselves. Mitt's ahead: Deal with it! Leave Obama to talk about Big Bird

    October 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. Chris

    You can not be a christian if you think killing the unborn is ok. In gods eyes abortion is breaking the 5th commandment

    October 10, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. JL

    Would someone please logically and thoughtfully explain to me how an abortion is a woman's right? Is the father not equally responsible? Is the child that's terminated not either going to be a boy or girl? How does abortion not infringe on their rights? We already have a law against murder in this country, so how can we have allow people to break it and pawn it off as a woman's right?

    October 10, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. mwhyt

    GOP Small Gov't. Small enough to fit inside a uterus in fact.
    Much like the tide Rom's stances goes out and in depending on the time of day.

    October 10, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. eroteme

    Romney abortion comment draws Democrat (NOT Democratic) criticism. This criticism is quite mild when compared to previous Democrat criticism of his being a murderer and a felon, bad high school conduct, cruel treatment of his dog, etc.

    October 10, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. John Faux

    This is standard procedure. When the Democrats come to office they start funding abortion overseas with taxpayer dollars. When the Republicans come to office they stop funding abortion overseas with taxpayer dollars. It was the very first thing that Obama did when he came into office and it is the very first thing that Republicans do when they come into office.

    October 10, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. Jim

    Obamas manager stated Romney is interferring with a womens right to choose, Id argue the Dems by supporting abortion at any stage are interferring with a babies right to life. romney is abiding by the law, he is just saying government wont be used to fund them as a means for birth control. If justices are appointed and roe gets overturned then so be it

    October 10, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Scarface86

    MaryM: Well I know for sure that the President is for taking away my freedom, so I will vote for Romney.

    October 10, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Paul

    The following was written by Mitt Romney in the pages of National Review, just last year. You may Google it and read for yourself.

    My Pro-Life Pledge
    By Mitt Romney
    June 18, 2011 12:50 P.M.

    I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

    I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine...

    ...I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services...

    ...I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.

    ...And perhaps most importantly, I will only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution and the laws as they are written, not as they want them to be written.

    ...If I have the opportunity to serve as our nation’s next president, I commit to doing everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America.

    October 10, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42