October 10th, 2012
04:53 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney clarifies position on abortion

Delaware, Ohio (CNN) – Mitt Romney sought to clarify his position on abortion Wednesday, saying as president he would move "immediately" to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Romney sparked controversy a day earlier when he told the Des Moines Register's editorial board that he was not aware of any abortion legislation that would become part of his presidential agenda.

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Democrats pounced, accusing Romney of moderating his position on the highly-charged issue.

During the primary campaign, Romney maintained he would support efforts to remove funding for Planned Parenthood, a women's health organization that provides abortion services. Several House Republicans have introduced legislation that would strip funding from the group.

On Wednesday, Romney said he would support removing the group's funding through the federal budget, which must be passed by Congress.

"I think I've said time and time again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president," he said. "The actions I'll take immediately is to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget."

In the interview on Tuesday, Romney said 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.

"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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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 (300 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    In other words, he's sent out two different love letters.

    Dear Independents and Moderate: Please believe I'm a moderate!!!! Trust me...I'm not a big scary conservative religius nut who will rubber stamp far right legislation that limits women's rights!!!! Your very best most reasonable pal, Mittens.

    Dear GOP/Teatrolls: Wink wink ...look at those stupid moderates!!! We sure do have those suckers fooled, eh? Your very bestest "severely conservative" candidate, Mittens.

    October 10, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Republican supporter of President Obama

    Flip
    Flop
    Flip
    Flop
    Fib
    Flop
    Lie
    Flop

    Willard/Ryan 2012 – FLOP!

    October 10, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Harry Baxter

    For a guy who is supposed to have core beliefs, he doesn't seem to say anything that isn't later followed by waffling, flip-flopping, and having to kiss the butt of the NRA and his other "Tinfoil Hat" followers and Masters.

    October 10, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. DaveC

    Does this guy ever stay on message? I am a moderate republican turned independent who isn't that thrilled about Obama but Romney seems to change his message every three hours. Frankly, I get really sick of it.

    As the good lawyer says, pick a story and stick to it and don't vary it. Why is that so hard?

    October 10, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. alloramadai

    But, why on earth can't he get the issues right the first time? It's as if he doesn't understand.....

    October 10, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Borderless

    Romney finds he must continually clarify his positions because the main stream press, under orders from the Democratic Party, finds it must continually mischaracterize his positions.

    October 10, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. john

    He's lies to get elected. Hes not so christian after all.

    October 10, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. ignatius ibsage

    "I think I've said time and time again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president," he said. "The actions I'll take immediately is to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget."

    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 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    He has already said he will appoint a right-wing activist SC Justice to overturn Roe v Wade. No legislation required.

    Vote for this man at your own peril. Will he overturn women's rights to vote? Probably. Will he overturn black people's rights to vote? Probably.

    He is NOT to be trusted.

    Got 7 more elderly people to the polls today to vote early - YAY. I was one of several volunteers to pick up and then wait and take home. They are voting before the Republicans take their voting rights away. And not all were black. Whites are afraid too. Especially older women who have never driven in their lives.

    October 10, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    If he's a Christian, I'm never going to be one again. He is just a mean liar.

    October 10, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. myviewis

    Bottom line, abortion stays legal with Romney but you have to pay for your own abortion and not taxdollars will not pay for your abortion. What's the problem?????

    No taxdollars will pay for abortions in foreign countries. What's the problem?????

    A man and a woman can be financially responsible for paying their own abortion (yes, abortion should also be paid by the gentleman that got the woman pregnant).

    October 10, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. doug

    When I brought that up to some of my very conservative friends about Romney's flip flopping on abortion. They said he's not flip flopping, he just "grew up" and they were serious. I had to roll my eyes

    October 10, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Mike Goldsmith

    Clarify? Clarify? Oh yeah, real clear his position on this issue is. He's chosen to just take every possible position. What a fraud.

    October 10, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. law5312

    i agree with romney. alot of teenagers believe that if they get pregnant young they don't have to worry about school or getting work. they believe the govt. will give them foodstamps, medical,(obamacare) general asst. and a place to live.
    the whole thing is why should it cost me anything. we all have to pay! drop dead john

    October 10, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. Bill

    He has spent the last five years clariying his positions. That is why no one knows what he stands for and why he loses November 6.

    October 10, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Rich

    Abortion is a losing topic for democrats. That's why it annoys the democrats posting here. This independent is pleased with what I see from Romney. I will be voting for Mitt because he is willing to work across the aisle for real solutions that make sense. That is what Romney does best.

    October 10, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Phil Thomas

    What a liar, really folks please don't put this guy in office, he will say anything to get to office. Put in one term like he did when he was Govenor in Mass and then leave a complete mess. All you have to do is look at where his Money is coming in from, not ready for Prime Time One and Done Flip Flop Romney is not who we need leading our country at this time

    October 10, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  18. PJ, the first one

    Since running against Ted Kennedy, Romney has been referred to, by both parties as:
    "Multiple choice"
    "Well greased windmill"
    "Flip-flopper"
    "Chameleon"
    etc.
    So, here we go again, and you want him to represent the United States? "Fools Rush In".

    October 10, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. scarf

    As a wise man once said:

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but if you can fool enough of them just once, it lasts for four years.

    October 10, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    F 'n' A, man! Can Mittens go 24 hours without having to "clarify" something he says?!? What a JOKE!

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    October 10, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    I think Newt Gingrich said it best when asked if he thought Mittens was a liar: "Yes."

    October 10, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. GI Joe

    Wonder if he will be discussing the Ryan/Akin Bill on legitimate rape with those people? Remember -Ryan and Akin wrote the bill together.

    October 10, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "Bottom line, abortion stays legal with Romney but you have to pay for your own abortion and not taxdollars will not pay for your abortion. What's the problem?????"

    This is the situation right now. Federal money does NOT pay for abortions. Are you unfamiliar with the Hyde Amendment? Are you unaware that the GOP/Teatrolls have had control over the House for the past 2 years and have beenitching to find reasons for investigations to find some excuse for impeaching Obama and, if there was any evidence whatsoever that federal money is used to pay for abortions, they would have held hearings and made a circus of it? And why didn't they? Yeah. Becauase there's no freekin evidence of it and they know it.

    October 10, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    Of course Mittens is flip-flopping again! The requisites for being a Repub president are as follows (according to Grover Norquist):

    "All we have to do is replace Obama. ... We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.

    "Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be
    captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared."

    Obama/Biden 2012 = If not for sanity, then at least for a man who THINKS FOR HIMSELF!

    October 10, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Travis

    @ GI Joe
    "Will he overturn women's rights to vote? Probably. Will he overturn black people's rights to vote? Probably."

    Spoken like a true politician that would rather make up baseless comments about someone else. Good use of scare tactics though.

    October 10, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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