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.

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"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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. jami

    If a baby can feel outside the womb how is it that people believe that a baby can't feel inside the womb? I don't understand the mentality of people who think that you shouldn't have the death penalty but will let an innocent baby be torn to pieces by a machine... I couldn't imagine what that would feel like.

    October 10, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Term Limits 42

    This is not a waffle, it is affirmation of his stance on abortion. Many presidents have been pro life and not had any opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade. I seriously doubt he will have any chance to do it either. Hussein Obama has done more to bring this back to the forefront than any other president by attempting to force non abortonists to pay for the morning after pill. The more this idiocy is pushed the more polarized we become, opening the door for a more global assault on Roe v Wade. You might want to focus on what you have and keep your mouths shut before it becomes a bigger issue to a moral majority. Abortion is and always will be an issue, it will never be settled among our people and to those in favor of it, fine, just don't expect those not in favor of it to adopt your opinion or point of view.

    October 10, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Susan

    He's 'pro life' right up until the point of disposing of the fetuses, and then, well, if you can make a buck from it, why don't you?

    October 10, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. Janice

    Scare Tactics! A President cannot overturn Roe V. Wade and we all know it. Every Republican President has tried, but legislation gets killed before it becomes even close. That is one of the great things about a two party system. I would just suggest that maybe Romney sees the topic as many do as more than a woman's right to chose. There are people with very different opinions on this matter than our own, and to demonize them for what they truly feel is a very bad thing.

    October 10, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Greater Good

    Mitt the contortionist at it again. Or chameleon. Or peacock (showing ALL his true colors).

    October 10, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. Anna

    Amazing how zealous people can be in their defense of killing innocent babies. It's easy to just call all members of one political party stupid, but someone disagreeing with you doesn't mean they are stupid. I am a woman. I support Romney and other anti abortion candidates. Democrats oppose the death penalty for convicted murderers, but it's okay to kill innocent babies. Yeah, you guys are clearly on the morally correct side.

    October 10, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. tdorl2013

    You people are ridiculous. A woman's reason for an abortion is no one's business. Women deserve the right to abort their chilD, IF THAT IS THEIR WISH. We must provide a safe and secure path for women seeking abortions, regardless of their race, creed, nationality or legality. If women do not have this safe options, you will see an uprising in back alley abortions, as in the 60's. It didn't work then, and it won't work now. Educate your children about birth control, do no kid yourself with abstinence, it will not protect them!

    October 10, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. judeamorris

    I am a 64 year old woman. Having experienced in my lifetime, I can assure the posters who think young women use abortion as a method of birth control that NO ONE would voluntary choose that method. It's an outpatient surgical procedure that involves pain. My abortion was health related; had I been forced to carry a fetus, I would have had life-threatening problems. I chose to protect the two children I already had by assuring I continued to be a healthy presence in their lives. I am pro-choice as are many, many other Americans who realize that even judicious birth control results in unwanted pregnancies. I am not, nor do I know anyone who is pro-abortion.

    October 10, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Mark'd

    Women's Choice?? Ha Ha what a JOKE. The "Choice" was...have sex, get pregnant...the rest is... you abort my baby (public doctor), you pay the cost (tax payer)...and don't judge me (Republican)!!! All because I'm an "American"??? and it's MY right...NOT yours!! Lets vote for a President (supposedly the Commander in Chief) who will announce he is for Gays but lie (to the world) about terrorism. YAY..MY choices...My choices....I want more choices...

    October 10, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. John

    Republicans, want to lower abortion rates? Education, Health Care, Birth Control. When you finally stop opposing Democratic agendas for the sake of opposing Democratic agendas and understand facts over faith, you'll realize this.

    October 10, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. smc

    Bring it on! - Obama did a very bad thing with that Mexico City executive order. And the Dems are just bringing on their own demise here trying to suggest this is a problem for Romney. Personally I love that the press is finally covering this - wish they did in Jan 2009 - OBAMA HAS US BORROW MONEY FROM CHINA TO PAY FOR ABORTIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES. You will have a hard time convincing the majority of Americans that this was a good idea. We're not even supposed to use US tax dollar to pay for abortions in the US - and polls show that the majority of Americans favor that. So, go for - try to make this a winner for Obama - you can't. But I'll enjoy watching you try.

    October 10, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Mke

    Wow, Romney will say anything to get elected. Look at that "Pro-Life Pledge" and then look at his comments saying that he doesn't have any pro-life legislation in the works. No matter what your politics, it's clear that you can't trust this guy because he's willing to be everything to everyone, and will say anything in order to get elected. I'd love to see an alternative to Obama, but there's no way that I'd ever vote for someone as persistently dishonest as Mitt Romney.

    October 10, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Katie

    The GOP really cares for women! NOT.

    This bears repeated as many times as possible until the Republicans get it through their thick heads: It is and has been illegal to use federal funds for abortions. Since 1979 – NO federal funding (ie tax dollars) goes to fund abortions. Therefore, defunding clinics like Planned Parenthood ONLY serves to defund the medical and social services far too many women rely on: physicals, medical tests, cancer screenings, counseling and education regarding a woman's right to understand how her body works and how to PREVENT pregnancy, along with affordable contraception. Let me repeat: federal funds/tax dollars DO NOT pay for a woman's abortion. Many, many of these clinics do not even offer abortion services, because these clinics reside in states where a woman's federally legal right to terminate her pregnancy has been outlawed, but they would ALSO be defunded.

    I ask you – whom does that help? Woman who seek abortions will just find them somewhere else, but women seeking routine medical care or proper counseling and education on how to PREVENT pregnancy will have no where to go. How short-sighted is that?!

    October 10, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Obama Mama

    Romney strategy-Lie your way to the White House. Flip-flop when you cannot decide or whomever your in company with at the time.

    October 10, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. FLIndependent

    Romney is a master at talking in circles and this can be very dangerous. No one knows what his stand is on any given subject..he has no convictions. His primary opponents were all correct when they labeled him "a well-oiled weather vane" (Huntsman), a "liar" (Gingrich), and "if Romney become the nominee we should stick with Obama" (Santorum)!

    October 10, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. smc

    This policy that Obama signed in Jan 2009 - Mexico City policy - is to pay for abortion in OTHER COUNTRIES. In our horrid economy, that's just insane. As Romney put it 'we're borrowing from China' to pay for this stuff.

    October 10, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. ROC

    The argument that people need contraception provided for them is amazing to me. Doesn't anyone have the ability to control themselves anymore. If you don't want to have a baby, don't do what it takes to make a baby. It's actually very simple and it doesn't cost taxpayers a penny.

    October 10, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. drdiane50

    Enough people commenting here are clearly uninformed, or are ignoring what they should know to be true. NO FEDERAL DOLLARS ARE EVER USED TO PAY FOR ABORTIONS!!!!!!! Not ever, no how, no way, doesn't happen. Quit calling Obama a reckless pro-abortion president. It simply isn't true. Though, as Romney pointed out in the debate, if you tell a lie often enough people will believe it.

    October 10, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Frank

    People of the United States of America and MSNBC LEAN FORWARD LIBERALS,
    Apparently ,nobody in the Obama media and campaign understands straight english,Gov Romney said "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. MSNBC,where in this statement does he say anything about Federal Funds not being used and funneled to organizations in the United States for Abortions.No where!This is more Liberal Media smoke/fogballs/BS.He will enact NOTHING in regard to Abortions in the United States.

    October 10, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. Wrenn_NYC

    Here we go agan.

    Abolishing abortion is a Republican party plank, there to get votes. Which it always has done, for 36 years of the Repulicans not pursuing it.

    Hey. It works. It gets votes. To bad those who vote on this one issue can't realize that it's just that. A carrot.

    "Oh No, this time FOR SURE!!'

    Yeah. RIght.

    October 10, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. ignatius ibsage

    "But we know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose..."

    life is a seamless experience of continual evolution that begins at conception and continues until interrupted by natural death either through accident, sickness or old age. the exception occurs when it is interrupted by direct premeditated human intervention. in this case in almost all instances it is classified in civil societies as murder and punished accordingly.

    abortion of a human fetus falls into this latter category of murder. it is a crime uniquely instigated and executed by women, most often for their own convenience and runs counter to all civilized concepts of maternal responsibility. experiencing the cognitive dissonance caused by this conundrum is the primary reason for the hysterical reaction against its recognition and the implausible attempt at justification by such meaningless arguments as “women’s right to privacy”. abortion has nothing to do with privacy. it’s murder pure and simple and those who commit it are murderesses period.

    October 10, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Mom

    Women have a choice to protect or not protect. Why the wiggle room for the mothers and the blame for the politicians? It sure helps fund the campaigns on both sides of the isle. And unfortunately the killer gets away scott free. Looks like this abortion issue works for a lot of people....except the spirit of our country.

    October 10, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. chris

    I have to add to this, to even attack Mitt Romney on this matter is just a head shaker. How is that animals have more rights than and a baby? Yes, the baby is not born but it is still a human.

    Mitt Romney is looking to cut fundings in things we do not have to pay for. If a woman wants to right to kill their child then let her do it with her own money. I think trying to get us out of debt is much more important than some females using abortion as a birth control. I am a mother, I became pregnant at a time where is was very difficult for me. I took my responsibility, and I am blessed to have a beautiful baby boy.

    Yes there are the sensitive cases of women raped, health issues and incest. Those should be covered case by case, and if their insurance companies able to cover it then ok.

    October 10, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. ABQ_Girl

    Why do people continue acting like there has been no progress in the last 4 years. Unemployment is back to where it was when Obama took office AND the stock market (my retirement) is higher than it's ever been. My answer to the question "Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago" is YES. I paid off all my debt and I have more money in my savings.

    My qusetion is, for those of you that support Romney because he preached that he was against abortion and would cut all funding. How do you feel now? Now that he's jumped over than turned librial on this particiular topic?? Just curious!!!

    October 10, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. sparks2000

    Mitt Romney owns a company that disposes of aborted fetuses.He is a liberal republican,to say the least.And now,with election day coming he makes a blanket statement regarding abortion to try and smooth over conservative republicans-its nothing but a PR speech to make conservatives think he is more conservative.Evidence,however,proves otherwise.lol

    October 10, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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