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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    This guy was a Mormon bishop and talking women out of abortions or divorce was basically his job.

    October 10, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  2. TSB8C

    I agree with the stance that public tax dollars should not be used to fund abortions, and therefore those private organizations that receive federal funds for other purposes should not be using those funds to pay for abortions.

    October 10, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  3. Dog on a roof

    "Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president," Andrea Saul said in a statement."

    Yup, that will sure help Mitt with all those swing voters. lol

    October 10, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. Sour Diesel

    There's nothing to debate on this subject, women should make decisions of their own, not some old dudes in the suites. I can't believe we're going back to the middle ages on some of these issues.

    October 10, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. bob

    To bad unborn children can't vote!

    October 10, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  6. rcsdinthehills

    If this candidate would take a stand, you could almost respect that, but this guy will say whatever he thinks will benefit him the most at the moment. He is the scariest presidential candidate that I have ever seen.

    October 10, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  7. Palin2112

    Sounds like he flipped flopped again.

    October 10, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  8. Sane in Maine

    You know – this guy is confusing as hell. How can we have a president who you cannot trust to be on the same side of an issue tomorrow as he was today – and how is it that the 47 or 48% of voters who say they will vote for him don't see this. This man is a ruthless and rootless politician – swinging now toward the center after being on the fringe right and leaving a trail of contridictions in his wake.

    Yes Obama sure isn't perfect but this Romney character has no character and I don't understand how so many people who are supporting him don't get it.

    October 10, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    No woman should vote for Romney -once he is elected-who knows how he will change his mind-we already have 1000 Republican state laws limiting womens health since 2010 including the vaginal probe-he has also promised to close planned parenthood where many poor women get their health care-the question is-does Romney change his mind or is he outrignt lying just to get your vote??? Who knows???

    October 10, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. mr. independent

    Again!!!!!He ( Romney ) flip/flops on issues and you can trust this Guy?????

    October 10, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  11. TrueIndependent

    I LOVE IT and support you standing behind your convictions............

    October 10, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  12. Grinning Libber

    There are only two choices on abortion. Keep it legal and safe as it has been for many years, or drive it into the dark where many women will DIE.

    October 10, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  13. brian

    He pandered to the extremists to get to the general election and now he is pandering to the moderates to try to win. We all know once in office he will pander to big business and the backbone of america will be shaken to the core.

    October 10, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  14. Ron McCain

    Women better wake up and read between the lines here. Romney and Ryan will be devasting to your rights and send your gains of the last decades back to square one!! Get off your butts and vote Obama!!!

    October 10, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  15. Fabian B.

    I'm so not shocked.

    October 10, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. Jean Sillat

    President Obama will lose all remaining Presidential debates against Romney simply because Romney has no ground. You can not debate anyone who doesn't have any ground! The Republican & Tea party wanted a puppet that they could move left and right, I am sorry to say it but Romney is just that. Seeing Romney changing his words over and over makes me wonder what's Mormon's approach when it comes to "Lying", because as a religious person people should be able to hold you accountable to your words. Romney is destroying his image. This is a Global Market, I think that no other Nations will be able to trust Romney on anything because we cannot trust his word. I know all politicians lie to some degree but the way that Romney does it is too visible. As a man, your word should be your credit.

    October 10, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. B4Cons

    Mitt Romney in 2002: "I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose."

    Mitt Romney in 2007: "Look, I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in 1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I changed my position. And I get tired of people that are holier-than-thou because they've been pro-life longer than I have."

    2007 Quote :
    First Sentemace : "Look, I was pro-choice"
    Fourth Sentence : : "I never said I was pro-choice

    Reversible Mittens can't even stay consistent from one sentence to the next.

    October 10, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. KBNJ

    This just in..."Romney comment draws Democratic criticism". LOL. Actually, I think his views are very balanced, and in sync with the vast majority. I think it's healthy to have an opinion that's evolved over time and with experience. Leave Roe v Wade alone and be respectful of both sides. Don't ask those who are adamantly opposed to abortion to pay for it. Seems like common sense and decency to me.

    October 10, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. Ann

    The question is, does Romney even make sense to himself anymore? "There is no legislation that I'm familiar with ..." What does that even mean?

    October 10, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Yankee Doodle Dandy

    Correct thing to do. I do not want my tax dollars to be spent on mothers who can't keep their legs closed. The Federal
    Government has no dog in this race and enough is enough. I will be voting for a Romney/Ryan ticket to get rid of the entitlement president and his stooge.

    October 10, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  21. Joe

    Everyone is opposed to abortion – the real question is whether the GOVERNMENT gets to tell the woman what she must do, or whether the woman decides. Ironic that republicans are anti-government, yet they want the government in every aspect of our lives, from censorship to drug laws to abortion.

    October 10, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. J.R. Radcliffe, MA

    The Obama campaign, capitulating to hard-line abortion advocacy groups, decided to close the big tent flap to pro-lifers , and especially Catholics. Consequently, not a few socially conservative Democrats are giving the politically moderate Republican Mitt Romney careful consideration.

    October 10, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. Peter

    Making a push for the Catholic Vote

    October 10, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. lovespandas

    He's right – no federal or taxpayers' money should be spend killing babies. If people want an abortion, then they need to pay for it themselves! I don't want my tax $$$ spent on killing babies. I'm not real fond of my tax $$ going toward women's birth conrol. For the many, many years I had to use it (before having tubes tied that I paid for myself), I purchased my own. I did NOT expect the government to pay for them. That thought never entered my mind. Now all the liberals seem to think they are owed something. Well, I don't OWE them crap!

    October 10, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. deb

    Once AGAIN! This guy will say ANYTHING to get elected!!!!

    October 10, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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