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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Romney is a big flip flop
    he used to be pro choice
    now he's pro life
    whats the real deal ?
    say anything to get elected

    October 10, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. daniel

    Romney will never cease to amaze me how quick he is to change his position to just fulfill his ego into becoming the first mormon President.
    He is; Angry, Desperate, Power hungry, Spineless self centered, grinch...etc. Re-elect Obama!

    October 10, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  3. geggyg

    @freedom
    The govt rareky pays for abortion , the Hyde Amendment prohibits fed money from providing funding for abortion services , except in some cases of rape or incest , but due to political threats and risks of funding cuts very few abortions are provided by govt funds . If as you say govt should stay of this private matter , do you support state govts mandating ultra sounds for women considering an abortion , or forcing doctors to give false information about the risks of abortion such as mental health and cancer risks, isnt that govt intrusion into private matters . If you dont want govts to come into the bedroom why do govts want to stop gays/lesbians from marrrying, many states have restrictions on fostering or adoption and child custody cases based purely on what they do in the bedroom

    October 10, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  4. Brock

    Anyone who thinks that the government is pressuring media outlets to take a pro-democratic stance is out of their ever loving mind! Look at Fox News! Oh way, they are an "Entertainment" channel now, right? The bottom line is that if you defund planned parenthood, it will skyrocket adoption agencies waiting lists and the line for welfare. We need to be focussing on birth CONTROL and stop teaching this abstinence only garbage that bible thumpers love to throw out there. If churches want a say in politics, then lets start taxing them like any other Corporation or "person" as Mitt Romney likes to refer to them as.

    October 10, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  5. Mike Buck

    Yes we know where Mitt stands. He stands with the Theocracy Empire of America (TEA) Party. Their platform is God, Guns, Gays and Gynecology.

    October 10, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  6. Vandy

    Are you kidding me? Can you imagine 4 years of conservative anger because the issues they care about most are the subject of a President Romney's flip-flop. Really! If the core belief a man holds is subject to the highest bidder, you can rest assured he will lie to you also. Conservatives, be careful what you hope for. The only good that came out of the last debate is we voters who follow politics saw the most dangerous form of hypocrisy. Does the governor think we Amercians are that stupid. For the governor this is political theater, but for struggling Americans, this man is dangerous.

    October 10, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  7. garwin1

    It is my understanding that Planned Parenthood also has a good adoption program.

    October 10, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  8. chauncy

    Bet if CNN would report Obamas misdeeds like they do Romneys, Obama wouldn't stand a snow balls chance under the sun of being re-elected.

    October 10, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  9. RGD

    How typical of Mitt Romney to keep changing his wishy-washy positions every few hours. He is nothing but well-lubricated weather vane with generous heaping of horse's manure depending on state of the race and what kind of crowd or reporter he is talking to. I may not agree with all of President Obama's policies but at least he believes in his own principles and want nothing but best for all American citizens, instead of pandering to certain segment of voters by saying anything they want to hear.

    October 10, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  10. Omni

    Mitt is lying and flip flopping on everything and his supporters love him for it. He lied 30 times in 30 minutes during the debate. Obama wouldn't have been able to say anything about his plans because he would have had to keep calling him out all night. Even though he lied his way through the debate he got a bounce in the polls? This is incredible! America is doomed.

    October 10, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  11. G Smith

    Romney lies to everyone!
    The abortion issue is THE issue which clearly demonstrates Romney's lack of principle.
    Whether conservative, independent or progressive....Romney has an answer for you... "multiple choice" Romney!!
    This guy is trying to "bob and weave" himself into the Presidency..
    He cannot be trusted!..We cannot afford to have someone like "lack of character" Romney as POTUS!

    October 10, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  12. rachel

    I'm so tired of the government being responsible for all of our actions. when it is convenient for us, we want the gov't to aid us, when we want more freedom, we want it out of the way. we should be responsible for our actions, bottom line. if we are raised to understand there is not going to be a "big brother" cleaning up our messes, perhaps we will all begin to think before we act. i have had an abortion. but i don't think it should be the burden of any taxpayers to be held accountable for others mistakes, carelessness, etc. rape, well, that's obviously a different area. that is where as a people we need to lend others our sympathy and SUPPORT. as i have learned, continuing to clean up other peoples failures and mistakes does not make them learn. in the long run, it enables these behaviors. i am not against a woman's right to decide, but i don't believe others should be held accountable.

    October 10, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  13. Greg from MO

    Why is it that liberals assume if you cut federal funding from a program, that entire program is immediately going to disappear? The federal funding for Planned Parenthood is just a small portion of their overall funding. If the taxpayers stop paying them, college girls will still be able to get their birth control pills, they'll just get them without the taxpayers help. If you are so worried about this you could always contribute your own money to PP, but liberals simply don't like to use their own money, they prefer to use everybody elses'. Same with PBS funding. You act as if PBS will cease to exist if they don't get the small percentage of funds from the govt. Again, if you are so worried about PBS give your own money and stop using mine.

    October 11, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  14. Mary

    What else is new about this flip flopper? Just change positions & say anything that suiits the audience at that time. I thought republicans should be people with dignity & will stand by whatever they say unless it doesn't matter as long as Romney, the salesman makes the deal regardless of the cost to the buyer. The problem is that Romeny as a president will just be pushed by anyone, especially the rich donors to act they way they want & the 47% of the people whom he wouldn't care about will have no place in this country. How would he deal with leaders of other nations if he has no integrity to stand by one position he takes. That's right I forgot his statement ' I stand by what I said, whatever it was" – he doesn't know which one to stand by, so he stands by whatever it was at that time. What an untruswothy human being running for the highest office of the country & his supporters just keep laughing along without taking a good look at this man. This country is not Bain capital you can sell out & just make your money & have no heart as the the people that will be affected. I am ashemed for the republicans since they are not.

    October 11, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  15. FrmerMrine

    Not enough! He said he'd end abortion in America, not just defund it. If he won't return to the values he claimed when running against Santorum he can no longer count on my vote. He's waffling on abortion, he's flip flopping on taxes. Just like we thought he'd do. If he thinks he can count on the votes of decent, value based, faith based voters with this kind of pandering to the radical left, he's very mistaken. No votes for backsliders on abortion!

    October 11, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  16. Nakini

    We all know that less abortions means more babies on welfare, rite? So when all you bible-thumpers have to shell out your tax dollars to these women & their babies, there won't be any complaining, rite? Btw for all the anti-abortion commentors, since you care so much, just how many unwanted children have you adopted?

    October 11, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  17. Thinking Texan

    etch a sketch moment from Bishop Romney.

    It is all about getting elected, positions don't matter.

    Except science is from the hell hole of Satan.

    And these idiots want to control our nuclear weapons?

    With idiots like these, who needs enemies? the foriegn enemies can take a break and watch the implosion.

    October 11, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  18. tarpondboy

    I heard this song before, its called "Flip Flop and Lie"

    October 11, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  19. Unimpressed

    Whether or not women can have abortions should be decided by a small group of male, not medically trained, conservative bachelors. Who else would know better what women really want?

    October 11, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  20. charles

    Infact I can't stand lying Romney's flips and lies no more.

    October 11, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  21. Koji

    Freedom: You say Obama wants to enter the bedroom, but what do you call Romney's stance of anti-gay? Isn't the only thing that seperates straights from gays what goes on in their bedroom? Yeah I thought so... Hypocrite.

    October 11, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  22. just sayin'

    If you take funds away from Planned Parenthood then there will be less birth control and therefore more unwanted preganancies. If you have more unwanted pregnancies then there will be more abortions. Is Romney pro-abortions?

    October 11, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  23. Chris

    Do any of you realize that Planned Parenthood provides birth control which stops people from having abortions? They also provide mammograms and pap tests. You make it sound like they just grab pregnant women off the street and talk them into abortions. They really do a lot of good things. Yet another reason to vote Dem. Obama 2012! Abortion is a very hard decision and women do not make it lightly. These idiots want to ban it for everything but rape. How about the health of the mother? Yes, people, women can die, even in 2012. Ask the nun who was excommunicated for allowing one to save the mother's life.

    October 11, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  24. Mayla

    I want to see all funding banned for faith-based organizations.

    October 11, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  25. NoTax

    have to be mandatory abortion for liberal families from the governments founds.

    October 11, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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