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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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

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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. lsn2me

    she is right not to trust romney. i do trust that romney will create many jobs in the natural gas fracking industry. i trust that this will render millions upon millions of gallons of fresh water unusable for years to come. my understanding is that fracking uses millions of gallons of fresh water per drill site, not to even mention the potential and real contamination of our dwindling fresh water resources. he will, indeed, create the jobs that will result in irreparable damage to our envrironment for generations to come. oh well, this generation needs jobs. our children will adapt to life without water or wildlife.

    October 10, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  2. Rudy Gonzales

    There he goes again! with all the 180's he done lately and throughout his long career of running for president he has changed his mind so many times, I'm getting dizzy. Let's see: Was he pro before he was anti...or was anti before he was pro? I'll bet you $10,000.00 he'll make more news again before his next debate.

    October 10, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. Sarah

    I get my birth control from PP. I pay for it but it saves me from paying an extra $75 to see a doctor and saves me an extra $300 in tests required to get birth control. All of which are provided at PP for free. Including breast exams and counseling. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cysts by a PP in Chicago. She doesn't have insurance. They then referred her to a low income specialist who diagnosed her with cancer. Blame parents for poor decisions their children make. Or the grow adults that make them. Not a healthcare facility.

    October 10, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  4. Lost

    Mittens Flip-Flopney does it again. Shameless, self-serving, self-promoting....puppet. He will be a GOP puppet that will trump the likes of the puppetry we saw with Bush. We ALL know where his heart is and it's to win at all costs, and his ultimate plan is to undo all the good things Obama started and dismantle the security of this country.

    His plans, if he actually has any real plans, will make this country even less favorable than before, with terro plots coming out of the woodwork worldwide, no safety nets with austerity served on a silver platter, other nations will begin to prosper and leave the US behind...and not extend a helping hand. The fate of this nation will be dire, and they want to avert this onto the current administration. People only look through eyes of fear, and want instant gratification, and the Pres told us all at the start of his presidency that it would take time and work...there IS no quick fix, and it will be bad for a short time before it gets better. Things are beginning to look better and getting better all the time, but there must be patience and perseverance.

    I see a future where states are given the power to treat individual citizens like garbage and freely rob them of their civil rights, because federal involvement will be legally detached, I see a future where there will be more people impoverished and crime rates on the rise due to austerity. Education funding will suffer because funds will be used to expand war efforts. Look at the past; war has been used by the US to jump start a struggling economy and continue longstanding feuds with other nations that they claim to be communist.

    I see a nation that will continue to want absolute loyalty from others and with none given back in return. I see a future come to life that was once only the imagination of conspiracy theorists. All that is hidden will come to light. Have we learned from the past, because we are doomed to repeat it, but this time there is no turning back, and there will no way to repair the damage. The world is watching. I pray that the US take a more sensible path and keep the current Pres. He truly is a good man, with a good heart. Let's hope that voters feel the same way....and most of them do.

    October 10, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  5. MARIO

    How if you call yourself a cristhian ,and you attend church services,and belong to a congregation ,you are goin to vote for a funny man who support gay marriage between a man and man,and a woman and a woman and proudly announce that,also he support late term abortion just days the baby birth is due,THIS IS MURDER,!!and this funny who is in the White House put his hand on he Bible on inauguration day,and proclaim himself a"CRISTHIAN",and probably NEVER READ THE BIBLE,IF YOU ARE A BLIND CRITHIAN,SHAME ON YOU,IF YOU VOTE FOR BARACK "BARRY" HUSSEIM (MUSLIM NAME) OBAMA,

    October 10, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. okiejoe

    His clarified position on abortion:I was lying last week when I opposed abortion but I'm not lying now when I'm for it until next week when I will have been lying this week but not next week or the week before last. I hope that is clear.

    October 10, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  7. Kona

    Romney is lying about not knowing the platform and positions of his own party when it comes to abortion. Has he not seen what is going on in states like Virginia where the government has tried force women to have ultrasounds against their will and against medical advice??? Either he is willfully ignorant or just flat out lying!

    October 10, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  8. Deanna

    Why do you people make excuses for Mitt. There is a recording of what he said. We've heard it. I'm so sick of our wimpy media and conservatives who accept this man's constant flip flopping. Enough is enough, when will someone have the courage to stand up to Romney for his lies.

    October 10, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. katabay1106

    I thought funding for abortion should be limited to legitimate rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at stake. For illegitimate rape as suggested by Rep. Todd Akin it should be based on whether the woman experienced pleasure or not.

    October 10, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  10. Sashimi-X

    defunding planned parenthood will have a negative effect on an already overpopulated country. Reversing roe v wade will force abortions back into back alley butcher-shops.

    Outlawing abortions will not make them go away just like outlawing drugs has not made them go away. We need real solutions to our problems not religious rhetoric.

    All Romney is is religious zealotry and hot air.

    October 10, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. sweets

    I support him on this so shut up...... abortion is murder i dont care what anyone says but people have the right to get it and teenagers should be abstinent anyways their teenagers...... thats why their are many different contraceptives that or abstinence

    October 10, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  12. Elizabeth

    Planned parenthood provided me information on stds, birth control and how to keep me healthy as a young college student. As a young bride, planned parenthood helped me plan for my future children and this helped me obtain my goal to be a scientist and an educator. I had two pregnancies and two lovely children.

    October 10, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  13. LionelB

    Yup Mitt – your lips are moving, that means you are lying again. You change your stance from day to day, from venue to venue, from audience to audience. Sir, have you no shame at all?
    What must your kids think of a father that has no set moral stance, but will say anything to win an election. Your are a discredit to the Republican Party, to Mormons everywhere, and to proud Americans. May God forgive you.

    October 10, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  14. Eric

    This isn't about abortions, but rather about pandering to the base. What I want to know is if the folks who vote for Romney would still be happy with him after he tries to take away their mortgage interest tax deduction "loophole". Because, you see, the super rich aren't too worried about their mortgage interest tax deduction when they can get the rest of their taxes cut 20%. But the middle class, which often gets their tax rates cut by as much as 40% due to the mortgage interest tax deduction... Those folks are going to see a big increase in their effective tax rates. And millions will lose their homes. Count on it.

    October 10, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  15. daveugber

    how about we all consider charitable organizations to fund birth control and abortions...WHY can't the leftists form a national organization of abortions and a national organization for birth control, and politic the private sector to fund these ideas??? what's the harm there, everyone??? cannot organizations on the left fund their own social agendas? i think it is a viable and FAIR option to forcing taxpayers to pay for something they don't believe in...don't you???

    October 10, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  16. Lenny Pincus

    The people who support Romney have no idea what he stands for. They see a make believe enemy in Obama and have chosen Romney as their make believe savior.

    October 10, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  17. Ross

    Romney will say anything to get elected!

    I have stopped counting how many times he was for it before he was against it!

    He has got a credibility problem!

    October 10, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  18. jimloomis

    How can anyone trust Mitt Romney on ANY issue?? He babbles away, promises everything to everyone, then back tracks, and later a spokesperson has to "clarify" what he said yesterday, then he says something different tomorrow.
    Good Heavans! The man has no strong personal convictions whatsoever ... except that he really, really, REALLY wants to be president.

    October 10, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  19. TheTraveler

    Why anyone would ever consider voting for Mitt Romney is beyond me. I've never, in all the Presidential elections I've witnessed, starting with Nixon, ever seen such an inconsistent candidate. People can rant and rave about Obama, but at least with him, I have an idea of where his core interests and ideologies lay ...

    October 10, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. jerry

    i just don't know how anyone could be voting for this mitt romney. i think people are drawn to him because they despise obama and not what romney actually stands for.

    October 10, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  21. ny88

    Planned Parenthood provides so much more then birth control or abortions. Years ago, when I was in college, the Planned Parenthood near my college was providing low cost pap smears and checkups for breast cancer. Since it didn't cost much, I decided to have a checkup. Turns out I had pre-cancerous cells. They arranged for me to have surgery and I'm sure saved my life. There is a very small percentage of Planned Parenthood facilities that perform abortions and those abortions are not paid for with government funding but private donations.
    I also know some women who have gone to Planned Parenthood for pre-natal care. Many women are not able to afford going to an ob-gyn.
    Which brings me to another point. When Romney was governor of Mass. he was most definately pro-choice. I'm concerned that this new pro-life Romney is not telling the truth. Obviously he's lying to one side.

    October 10, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. BeverlyNC

    How many more times does Mitt have to outright lie on his positions before the People realiize Romney has NO beliefs??? He only wants to be President and will say anything to anyone and then 5 minutes later say the exact opposite position to a different crowd and then pretend he was comptletely consistent. A liar with no character, integrity, honor and nothing we can trust is not fit for ANY office. He should concede the election and go on a world tour to visit alll his houses and all the countries where his money is hidden. Romney is the least presidential candidate ever put forth by Republicans.

    October 10, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  23. TheThinker1958

    Romney should win... because he loves trees... he loves cars... he loves 'sport'... he loves women... he loves people... he loves anything will give him one extra vote... he still won't allow his dog inside his car when travelling...

    October 10, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  24. penny wright

    Paul Ryan wants to outlaw abortion in the case of rape or incest.

    Who arrests the rape victim, Paul?

    October 10, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. LivingDonor

    George and Lenore Romney were neighbors of my family in East Lansing, Michigan in the early 60's when George was Governor of Michigan. They were very pleasant, civic minded people.

    Mrs. Romney walked the neighborhood for charities like the March of Dimes and marched with Martin Luther King. And on Halloween, Governor Romney came to the door and handed out candy and money for UNICEF. They were conservative but compassionate people.

    As for Mitt and Ann, I can't imagine that they ever answer their own door. And if they knew children were there trick-or-treating, they'd probably accuse them of being part of the 47% who are only looking for a handout.

    You know... "those people," as Ann likes to say.

    If it weren't for the fact that he looks like George, I'd swear that Mitt and someone (or something) else's baby were switched at birth.

    October 10, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12