March 19th, 2012
08:23 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney can't escape birth control questions in Illinois

Peoria, Illinois (CNN) - Mitt Romney tried to make his final day before Tuesday’s Illinois primary all about the economy, but in the end he couldn’t escape the distracting questions about birth control that have seeped into the Republican presidential discussion for weeks on end.

Romney faced two questions about contraception as he wrapped up his last event Monday, a sun-splashed outdoor town hall on the campus of Bradley University in Peoria.

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After Romney riffed for about 20 minutes on President Barack Obama’s management of the economy, he solicited questions from the large student-heavy audience.

As the first questioner made apparent, these voters were not pre-screened.

“So you’re all for like, yay, freedom, and all this stuff,” said the first woman to approach a microphone. “And yay, like pursuit of happiness. You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”

Her remark drew a mix of applause and boos from the crowd, and a rebuke from the Republican frontrunner.

“You know, let me tell you, no no, look, look let me tell you something,” he said, waiting for the crowd noise died down. “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy, that’s what he’s all about, okay? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about.”

That exchange was followed by another question about Romney’s plan to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

A female audience member asked Romney where he might suggest “millions of women go” without Planned Parenthood offering reproductive and sexual health care.

“Well they can go wherever they’d like to go,” Romney told her. “This is a free society. But here’s what I’d say, which is the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood … The idea of the federal government funding Planned Parenthood I’m going to say no, we’re going to stop that.”

Also see:

Santorum hits back at 'economic lightweight' charge

Republicans ramp up efforts to slam Obama health law

Poll: Romney lead widens in Illinois

Filed under: 2012 • Illinois • Mitt Romney
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. SBle

    Without planned parenthood, unwanted pregnancies would go up three-fold.

    March 20, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Is Mitt a Git?

    Romney's arrogance has once again gotten the best of him. If I were the woman he said "vote for the other guy" to, I would have said, "OK, I will".

    Since he's advising people to vote for the other guy, we might as well...

    Obama 2.0, 2012.

    March 20, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    ALPHA wrote on page 7:

    Clearly these two chicks were plants from the Libs. .....
    Actually, they are a better fit with the conservative stereotypical narrative of lazy liberals wanting something for free, completely paid for by taxpayer dollars. They make the wrong argument to be genuine liberals, "I want free birth control." Uh, uh.

    If they are "plants" as you say, then they were planted by the Romney campaign so that they can stand back and say, "See, I told you so. All they want is something for nothing."

    March 20, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. sayer

    Did he not see what happened when Komen pulled funding from Planned Parenthood? I'm sure Mitt can afford a newspaper and an adviser to read it to him.

    March 20, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Jack

    Married women cannot get birth control for free from their health insurance? What is wrong with these GOP idiots? They want our women bare-foot and pregers. If men had to pay for birth control you'd see a much different debate.

    March 20, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. ThinkAgain

    @MomOfTwo: "Most of the services Planned Parenthood provides are not abortions."

    I would phrase it "Virtually all of the services Planned Parenthood provides are not abortions" because only 3% of all of its services are for abortion – and NONE of the money it gets from the federal government is used for those services.

    March 20, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Mitt the Hypocrite

    In one breath, the Republicans don't want tax payers to pay for Planned Parenthood or any other staple for women's healthcare. And then in Idaho and other states, the Republicans are trying to force women to have ultrasounds before getting an abortion. So who is going to pay for that?!?!?!? Are they going to use TAX PAYER money? Or are they going to mandate that the women pay for it? I thought they were against gov't mandates!

    March 20, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. avd

    "GOP hating women's rights since the beginning of time"???

    Are you serious? DO you even know what woman's rights means? You are confusing women's rights with ENTITLEMENTS.

    There's a difference between allowing a woman to vote and giving women free stuff that they should pay for themselves so as to not burden other policy holders. For every "free" item that the insurance company has to give people, EVERYONE else's insurance goes up. Nothing is free. Work, and stop trying to get something for nothing by making others work for you.

    March 20, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. AG

    For crying out loud – Pay for your own birth control and stop whining that you have some "right" to sponge off the rest of us who save our money, watch our expenses and do pay our own way for the things we want.

    March 20, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. ThinkAgain

    @WiredweirdinSF: "Did you hear the "question." Some dope addict wants "free" birth control. "

    Wanting your health insurance plan (which either you and/or your employer pay for) is NOT asking for something free. And I love the way you assume anyone who stands up to Mittens (or any of the GOP yahoos) is somehow automatically a "dope addict."

    You righties are a bunch of little children who feel like they're being persecuted anytime anyone disagrees with them. Reminds me of my kids when they were three years old: "You're not fair! Wah-wah-wah!"

    March 20, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Wake up people

    The repubs are appealing to the racists, the ones that want one thing and one thing only, to get the Obama's out of the White House. So sad, people are voting against their own self interests. Just because we have a black President in a country where just over 100 years ago, slaves were not even allowed to read. What a shame.

    OBAMA 2012!

    March 20, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. Dean

    “So you’re all for like, yay, freedom, and all this stuff,” said the first woman to approach a microphone. “And yay, like pursuit of happiness. You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”

    Let's see. We are engaged in long wars, Iran is posing a threat to world peace, the economy is down the tubes, unempolyment and underemployment is about 18 – 20%, jobs are still being sent overseas today, price of gas is killing the recovery and we borrow money from China to keep going and the stupid liberals are worried about free birth control for their well being.

    Food is more important to my well being than birth control. I think the government should give me free food.

    March 20, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. sayer

    Romney did say, "I'm not concerned about the very poor." He has decided to be consistent on this one.

    March 20, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. ThinkAgain

    @Mff: " ... but we need our government to spend our tax dollars wisely."

    How about ending oil subsidies? Or not lying us into wars? Or closing tax loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires pay less than 10% in taxes?

    Spending money on Planned Parenthood IS a wise use of our tax dollars: By providing affordable health care for women, we are supporting a healthier, more productive work force and strengthening families.

    March 20, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Claire

    I attend Bradley and would like to say that the first woman to ask a question is not representative of the student population as a whole. That said, I was incredibly disturbed by Romney's implication that women's health is somehow a political bargaining tool. Cutting a program that provides health services to women who otherwise do not have any other option (and not proposing any other solution) is not acceptable.

    March 20, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. odk1

    you are right-on JIM TOM is called insurance, i do not find anything free about contraceptive issue.

    March 20, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. Tillie

    @jim tom.....


    March 20, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Dean

    jim tom

    A lot of you people don't seem to understand what the word "free" means. When someone has an xray that's covered by their insurance, do you complain that they're getting a free xray? It's called health insurance. Also, despite what you might think, you are not paying for anyone else's health insurance. A disturbing number of people seem to think that their taxes are somehow paying Sandra Fluke's health insurance premium
    --------–Sorry Tom but the more services offered the more my premium goes up. Also we pay for meicaid services and free health clinic services. Nothing is free.

    March 20, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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