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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Reminds me of Forrest Gump......Mitt Romney is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

    October 10, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  2. Cogito

    Romney didn't clarify ANYTHING.
    He merely changed his position YET AGAIN based on what was most politically expedient for him.
    (WHAT is your problem with this comment CNN?!?!?!)

    October 10, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  3. Doug Lynn

    For all of you that support planned parenthood... Great! Start backing it with your wallet instead of just your mouth and there will be no funding problem. We are 16 trillion in debt already. Exactly when do you think money is going to start growing in trees? We are destroying our future, our children's future and our grand children's future because we are determined to spend money even though we do not have the integrity or the guts to pay for today. The insanity must stop soon or most of us will suffer due to inflation from monetized debt or major cut backs in government spending because interest on the debt is eating more and more tax revenue.

    October 10, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. Irene Miscione

    Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up!
    Another day, another "Willard lie"...don't worry tomorrow his staff will "clarify" with another lie.

    Look folks, we get you republicans want anybody but the black guy. We've got the message...your voter suppression games, your birther tales, "your "he's not one of us" crap. We get it.
    What we don't get is how a party that used to be fairly astute in this country has turned such a racist, anti women, anti gay, anti poor party. And that you seriously think you can push your agenda under the guise that you all are the moral compass of the country.
    Said it once and I'll say it again. If Jesus had a grave, he'd be rolling over.

    October 10, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  5. Sue

    Flippin' mitt will say whatever his handlers in the GOP tell him to say. They just hand him a script to memorize that will please whatever audience they're putting him in front of. It's bad enough that he can't think for himself in front of a campaign crowd. But just imagine the damage this foolwould do with the wrong people. holding his strings when he goes to represent the US internationally. He couldn't even go to England to the Olympics without offending people and they are our allies! But the republicans don't care about America or Americans, they are just desperate to grab power for themselves. Study their history people, every time the republicans have had the White House (for the last 50yrs) they have put the country in the tank. Please don't do it to us again. Once upon a time the Communists were the 'Big Bad Wolf' and they were pretty easy to find and avoid. Now we are dealing with anti-American groups from many quarters of the globe that are being helped out by unhappy fellow citizens, we need to be

    October 10, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. Brian

    > It is a very critical, serious, and personal issue that should remain between a woman and her family, her doctor and her God (if she believes in one).

    Yes!

    > Obama wants to have the government come into your bedroom

    Actually, no, he's the one who would still allow you to make your own choice.

    > too much government !! I'm with Romney -

    Um, Romney is the one who wants the government to ban abortion ie dictate your reproductive options .

    This is one of the most absurdly contradictory statements I've ever seen.

    October 10, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  7. lfrank

    Poster "Freedom" do your homework. No tax payer money goes to fund abortions. Any money going to PP is for other services – cancer screenings and other health services. 97% of their operation budget is for screenings and other health services. I'm absolutely amazed at the vehement ignorance of Romney's supporters. Not only are they ignorant, but they obviously don't realize that he's been lying to them all along. The man freakin believes he will be God on his own planet someday.

    October 10, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  8. Drew

    I agree with SafeJourney that Mittens will say anything to try to appeal to all voters. He's the biggest flip-flopper ever as Ron Reagan stated yesterday. Luckily, he can't fool all the people all the time!!

    October 10, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  9. Jane

    How can any one vote for a party that doesn't think women are intelligent enough to know what to do with their own bodies?

    October 10, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. abbydelabbey

    Mitt is someone who will help the GOP turn the America into a theocracy. If you want to surrender your personal choices, your rights, not just as a woman but also as a man - vote for Romney. If you think I'm joking, look again. Look at how many members of the GOP (men especially) have been making comments about "legitimate" rape, etc. Also, the GOP is at the forefront of suppressing voters' rights under the guide of "voter fraud" albeit there has been virtually no evidence thereof....

    October 10, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. labman57

    "I'm a pro-life candidate ... who fully supports a woman's access to an abortion ... so long as she subjects herself to a complete loss of medical privacy ... and she doesn't use any of her health benefit insurance coverage to fund it ... or until the Supreme Court overturns it (after I appoint one or more new conservative justices) ... or if Congress passes legislation to make it illegal ... or the states make it virtually impossible to obtain the treatment in a safe medical facility ... all of which I fully endorse ... because I'm a pro-life candidate who happens to support a woman's right to receive an abortion."

    If you are experiencing vertigo, seek your doctor's advice ... unless you lack health insurance, in which case you're screwed.

    October 10, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  12. ryan

    Just like the weather in Mass. If you don't like it wait a few minute, it will change. Romney is a person without core believes of his own, or courage and convictions. Do we really want this person to be the leader? One more thing, I am from Western Mass, when he was the governor I do not remember him comming out this way, I guess we are the "47%"

    October 10, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  13. hannah

    Then Mitt will make sure that those same poor women who had their babies because they could not afford the birth control, do not have any financial assistance; no food stamps, just leave them in the gutter. That's the Republican way.

    October 10, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. ohgran

    If the Republican campaign advisors are coming out to correct Mitt's stand on issues so often, Americans need to question who would be making decisions if Mitt were to win the election. Mitt wants to win the election but he has no idea what he'd do if he got to the White House. Today he's for something, tomorrow he's against. Yesterday he sent jobs to China, today he wants to bring them back. He won't raise taxes for the middle class, but something will cost the middle class more $. No thanks, Mitt. Go back to Bain.

    October 10, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  15. Jason

    Just like Obama changed his mind about gay marriage, Romney has the right to change his mind about abortions. Maybe Obama will change his mind about closing the border, but then we don't want a flip flopper, do we?

    October 10, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  16. ann

    All i can say about romney is peekaboo ic u willard u cant hide we know the truth peekaboo

    October 10, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  17. on StreetWise

    NO, don't say it Mitt... don't say that you're going to change mind again! Oh, go ahead, change your statements again. The people are getting used with your flip'n and flopi'n... after all this spinning, we are tired and sick with your rhetoric and lies. Get another position... with one that have no connection with the US Government. Settle down in the Cayman Islands.

    October 10, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  18. popcorn

    Low income need SEPARATION CHURCH AND STATE.... because ties to bad economy....

    October 10, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  19. rao

    Mitt changes his stance on everything everyday..just like he changes his dress everyday.

    Not sure how people (maybe they are too dumb and believe all his lies) are supporting this guy..

    Big flip flopper.

    October 10, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  20. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Thanks for today's clarification Mitt!

    October 10, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  21. Ron

    Romney would endorse the Holocaust if Hitler were the voter that decided Ohio's fate.

    October 10, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  22. sugar

    um.. Federal funding isn't and has never been used for abortions or abortion counseling. It is used for women's health services, std prevention and awareness for both genders, though. Removing the funding serves only to increase the burden for PP in providing those services as private donations will be made to cover the costs. It won't be a bunch of pregnant girls we'll need to worry about, it'll be a bunch of diseased men. (anyone consider they use PP services, too?)

    October 10, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  23. Lou50

    not from me. anyone wants to complain about it apparently isn't having to pay taxes! you liberals need to understand there is no free ride!

    October 10, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. ArthurP

    If life starts at conception and that life enjoys all protections under the law does that mean that any person conceived in the United States is a citizen.

    If not why not?

    October 10, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  25. Traker Jon

    How many time can Romney flip-flop and get away with it. The guy is a compulsive lair!

    October 10, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12