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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    He says that he supports abortion in cases of rape. He also says that he wants it to be a state issue. So, while he personally believes that if you've been raped you should have access to an abortion, he doesn't care if Mississippi forces you to go through with the pregnancy...even if it endangers your life. And if you can't afford one you're out of luck. Too bad...God should have made you rich from birth. He doesn't want foreign aid dollars used for abortions, which means more women will be dying in childbirth who don't have to. He wants to defund Planned Parenthood, which will lead to more unwanted pregnancies, higher costs to taxpayers through welfare, and more reproductive health problems for women...because 97% of Planned Parenthood's provisions are women's basic healthcare, not abortion, and none of their abortions are funded by the federal government. He doesn't want taxpayers to support abortions for women who need them, but he doesn't care if taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths overseas. I'm not sure which possibility scares me more: That this man is too ignorant to have thought this issue through, or if he is aware of the moral corruption of his stance and just doesn't care.

    October 10, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  2. NameCg

    He just makes stuff up as it suit the locals.
    An empty suit.

    October 10, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Marilyn monter

    Does Governor Romney support breast cancer screenings, which is one of the health care services that Planned Parenthood provides? In a speech today or yesterday he made a bit point about his wife being a breast cancer survivor and the need to eradicate the disease. I guess only women of means will be able to get the screenings which will diagnose breast cancer in a timely fashion.

    October 10, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. Triple A

    The State Department has come on line today, over a month later admitting the had recieved cables from Stevens about his fear of violence in Libya and the fact that they denied his requests for more security. Obama has outright lied to America about what went down that day. Their only concern was covering everything up to save their own skin. Every day that goes by only convinces me more that Romney even with his faults is by far far a better choice to lead America. As far as I am concerned Obama is anti America and any one that supports him is the same. The Liberals can call me every name they have (and they have so many for fellow Americans that do not think like them) and it will not sway me from my convictions to Vote R & R this election. Obama is disfucntional and he has surrounded himself with people that hate America and want to change the foundation America was built on.

    October 10, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. tom

    Women plan to vote for this man?

    October 10, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Rc

    Mitt Romney- Public enemy number one folks!!

    October 10, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Brad

    Romney sure changes his position quite a lot. I wish he'd finally decide that he doesn't need to be the President.

    October 10, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. NatsFan

    Planned Parenthood does SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST ABORTION! If I remember correctly abortions only account for about 3% of their total services. They do cancer screenings, breast exams, STD exams, provide condoms and birth control, provide HIV testing and counseling...etc etc the list goes on and on. They provide so many services to the population and many of the people who utilize PP would have no other options if it didn't exist. What do Republicans think is going to happen if you cut all the social programs? Issues like poverty, unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, etc etc are NOT going to go away – they are going to get worse and then there is no support system for people to use!

    And to ignatius ibsage – you say abortion is " murder pure and simple and those who commit it are murderesses period." Question for you – are you a meat eater? I cannot take anyone seriously who sits there and tells me abortion is murder but is totally fine enjoying their big slab of steak that came from a slaughtered cow who went through days, months, and/or YEARS of torture just so someone can enjoy its flesh. To me this is equally as disgusting and deplorable. If you find abortion to be murder, surely killing animals for human consumption and enjoyment is as well? Or do you have a double standard?

    October 10, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. helenecha

    Yeah, I see. Romney is a very great man and will be a very great President of America.

    October 10, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. jane

    Romney's also against in vitro fertilization. Does this mean if he's elected (God forbid) he's going to make his son and daughter-in-law give back the child They got through IVF? Or is this another case of IOKIYAR (it's okay if you're a Republican)??

    October 10, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. bizmarks12

    Flip Flopper caught in the act! lol

    October 10, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  12. Canada

    Bush Jr. now Mitt??? The only thing this proves is the majority of the American voting public has the same IQ as the dodo bird, which is extinct by the way. You should rename the U.S.A to Mauritius. Good luck, you're going to need it.

    October 10, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  13. Reggie from LA

    Romney has spent 7 years "clarifying" his comments. Is there something wrong with our intellect that we don't understand him, or is it that he needs constant do overs put the "fix" on his truths that manage to escape his mouth?

    October 10, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  14. Steve

    "I think I've said time and time again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president,"
    --–
    Romney really doesn't know what he has said from day to day, but he will stand behind it anyway.

    October 10, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. Steve

    Until changing his mind tomorrow.

    October 10, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  16. rcsdinthehills

    Rape is not an exception in the platform that Republicans adopted in Tampa. Insanity.

    October 10, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  17. zoey77

    I am ok with government supplying birth control. I am not ok with killing a baby. If a child is killed after birth, it is murder. Before birth it is a "choice". Totally twisted. It is the same baby all along.

    October 10, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  18. Lindalou

    Smart move taking away low income women's source of care. Let's just let them all spread disease, give birth to unplanned children, go unchecked on gynecological issues. That's good politics there folks. He's starting at the bottom getting rid of care for lower income people and middle income is next on his list. He'll do whatever it takes to get elected.

    October 10, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. lawrence scott

    i have never in my lifetime experience the type of politician that mitt romney represents this man shows no leadership qualities as president of these united states period one day he is for something the next day he isnt can you trust this man with his hand on the button one moment he is ready to attack the next minute he changes his mind .god help us all if this guy becomes president of this nation into the 21st century it will be the end of america as we no it think before you vote your lives may depend on your vote .

    October 10, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  20. billy davis

    This guy flip flops at record speed. And for the dummies out their. Abortions are not paid for by Government funds. The GOP " We are like the Taliban, we hate Women and Education"

    October 10, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  21. Rasputin

    1. I don't particularly like either major party, but Mitt says whatever gets votes. I mean, you can easily find videos of him declaring opposing stances very firmly on essentially all of his issues. Very weird.

    2. Most planned parenthood sites don't offer abortion services or even refer patients to them.

    3. I'm not economic whiz, but I am fiscally conservative and defunding planned parenthood will cost us a lot of money in the long run. Idiots that can't take of themselves or their reproduction make crappy parents and screw up their kids frequently. Those kids are going to cost us a lot of money. Hospital NICU's for crappy prenatal care, special classes in public schools, court appointments, more prisons. If you want to know where your tax dollars go, look no further than the offspring of idiots that reproduce early and often.

    October 10, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  22. flavoter

    Yes as a Mormon who can be as God. He has chosen the planet earth to rule over. Didn't you all here Romney's wife as she stated "It's their time" should this be interpreted as biblical predestination?

    Mitt the lying Bishop!!

    October 10, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. DarthWoo

    I guess Mr. Etch-a-Sketch got a case of the shakes.

    October 10, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  24. klur

    Planned parenthood DOES NOT receive federal funding to perform abortions. So why does it need to be defunded? Planned parenthood provides a valuable service for low income families- birth control, mammograms, pap smears. I used Planned parenthood when I was a college student and did not have insurance. Why is Romney against providing these services? In the long run- preventing unwanted pregnancies with birth control, catching problems early with health screening and well-women checkups – will save the tax payers alot of money. Why then do teh Republicans so vehemently hate planned parenthood?

    October 10, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  25. SouthernCelt

    Like it or not, abortion and Birth Control are the law in the U.S. and are not likely to be overturned any time soon. Both are a decision left to every woman between her and her Faith, if she has any. The Government should stay out of that business and stop funding promiscuity.

    October 10, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
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