Romney abortion comment draws Democratic criticism
October 10th, 2012
12:25 AM ET
10 years ago

Romney abortion comment draws Democratic criticism

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in an interview on Tuesday 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.

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"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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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 (1,031 Responses)
  1. Deez

    When will the Republicans realize they are not the only ones here?! You can't run a country based on supporting only a subset of the people!

    October 10, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. rosco

    Four years ago, President Obama said that if you don't have a record to run on, 'you make a big election about small things.' With 23 million people struggling for work, incomes falling, and gas prices soaring, Americans deserve more from their president," spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said

    October 10, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  3. Jay

    Haha! So we should ignore the economy and foriegn policy but focus on Big Bird and now Planned Parenthood? This is a new spin on wag-the-dog.

    October 10, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  4. Nathan

    Moderate Mitt continues to sell out the gullible right wing. Haha he lied to you all along and you bought it...

    October 10, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  5. tom

    There he goes again...flip flopping like a fish. He has clearly stated in the past several months that he would seek to overturn Roe v Wade. Now he's lying about his intentions once again. Can anyone really believe a word this man says? NO

    October 10, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  6. Mary Greene

    This man has no clue to what he wants to do let alone being president. People, I remember someone else like this and our country went down. (GB). Wake up America, it is not time to sleep.

    October 10, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. Aj

    If he's going rondo that he needs to ban govt money going to faith based " initiatives"

    October 10, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  8. Thou shalt not kill.

    Gop is always pro life unless you use a gun! You betcha!

    October 10, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. badmoonrising

    So he said there is no current legislation that would become part of his platform. It doesn't say he would support or oppose future legislation. So basically this article says nothing. Great job news people!

    October 10, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Jhalll

    The headline should be...Ever More Continuous Lies From Pathological Liar Romney

    October 10, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. Pete

    Did Romney also state as a Mormon bishop he admonished a single Mormon pregnant woman saying she'd better give the baby to him to give to a parenting couple because single parents are irresponsible,incompetent and if not she'll be excommunicated from the church,didn't tell you just how extreme he can get did he!!Romney tell you he'd change the abotion bill even against a woman's life being challenged because of the pregnancy,is that what women want,I don't think so!!Women better read up on that Mormon moron before placing your vote your life may depend on it!!Planned Parenthood is needed for women just as NPR and Sesame Streets Big Bird is for kids,its a necessity that can't be ignored especially by this Mormon idiot or anyone else!!

    October 10, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  12. glades2

    Per the byline, what else is new???

    October 10, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  13. Jack from Illinois

    Wow, Romney trying to etch-a-sketch his own public statements, actions, and positions.

    Who could have seen THAT coming?

    October 10, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Andrew

    This is not news and definitely an unnecessary title for a very poor quality story. Get with it CNN, I like reading your stories but my patience is wearing thin.

    October 10, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  15. j

    The matter of "legitimate rape" offers, ironically, support for both sides of the abortion issue. If abortions are restricted to cases of rape, then the demand for abortions will include women who claim rape, whether it was true or not. How do we determine if it was true? By trying the "partner" and waiting for the results of the trial? That could put things off well into the live birth range. So supporters of abortion on demand have a valuable point, and opponents of abortion, even in the cases of rape, have a major point. Of course, the accusation that some women would react that way will be hotly disputed, after all, women are all "honest" and boyfriends are all skunks.

    October 10, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Jerry

    And being pro-life is a bad thing? How far have we, as a nation, have dropped in moral values. It is truly to our shame.

    October 10, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Romney flip flops on the abortion issue depending on the audience. This is not a character trait that makes a good president.

    October 10, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  18. grist

    What a leader! Seems to say what people in a particular room he is in wants him to say. There are a lot of rooms!

    October 10, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  19. paul

    Alright, america let's wait 24 hours and see what side of the fence he is on tomorrow. We need to send this guy back to one of his many homes in several different states, there is no way he should get a chance to put america back in the ditch we are trying to get out of. We the 47% need to vote, and vote so we can be heard. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    October 10, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. MikeB

    Again Obama claims to protect women while advocating the murder of infant girls and boys that happen to be an inconvenient result of irresponsible behavior. Abortion should never be used as a form of 'Birth Control'.
    If Obama had his way he would be openly advocating the euthanizing of the elderly that need assisted living.

    October 10, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. poopyonastickmakesmesick

    Why would Obama point out that Romney is flip flopping on overturning Roe v. Wade? Romney is showing all of us moderate Republicans that he is a moderate candidate. He is exactly the type of candidate I am looking for. His main platform is jobs, and economic prosperity. Taking funding from abortions goes along with his whole philosophy of small government. Something I am also for. If he needs to appease a few conservatives to get into office, but then moves a little more toward center on certain issues, I am fine with that.

    October 10, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  22. ObamaJoe

    It's not a big deal. I only concern that he is enjoying the tax loopholes and he is making more loopholes. Bad for this country.

    October 10, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. zaggs

    Ah yes, let us not forget Obama's "mainstream" approach of defending sex selective partial birth abortions. A practice by the way that has been banned by such repressive regimes like: Canada, the UK, Sweden, etc.

    October 10, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. RichardDrew

    It's not about pro life or pro abortion. It's about a woman's right to choose. If some federal funds find thier way to paying for some protection than so be it. The real focus should always be on saving the life that is now and not in the future. Saving a life not in just the literal sense but in the figurative sense as well. Planned parenthood is not evil but good. Tell a woman forced to have a child through the Repugnicans that don't worry we will find someone to adopt and your mental health will not be affected is just sad.

    October 10, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  25. Paul

    CNN some women are ok with everything going back to the 1950's that is why they vote Republican.

    October 10, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
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