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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Romney is toast!! He keeps placing his foot directly in his mouth! He will never get my vote!

    October 10, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. Was It

    Was it a "Flip" or a "Flop" this time. It's sooooooo hard to keep up with Willard's "flips" and "flops".

    October 10, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. GenYer

    Paul Ryan is known for not only just an opposition to abortion. He also is anti-birth control and anti-planned parenthood, which is dangerous for both men and women. He has even said:

    "I'm very proud of my pro-life record, and I've always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life." –Paul Ryan, referring to rape as a "method of conception" when asked if it should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she's raped, interview with WJHL, Roanoake, Va., Aug. 23, 2012

    Just to be clear, not all men are Paul Ryan. Thank goodness for that.

    Since Mitt Romney decided to choose Paul Ryan as a running mate, this means Mitt Romney is willing to support the idea that abortion and planned parenthood (which saves lives) is wrong, especially in the case of rape. Which, again, makes Mitt Romney a liar.

    October 10, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. blackhawkmom

    If anyone would take the time to research what Romney has said over the last eight years, they wouldn't believe anything that comes out of his mouth. He changes his position to what is necessary to get him elected to any/every office.

    October 10, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Adam

    Obama's campaign will do anything to distract you from the real issue, which is the economy.

    October 10, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. just_a_moderate

    That seems like a strange position. So Mitt is saying that he doesn't have abortion on his agenda, but is also saying that he wants to appoint justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and Saul is saying that he is assuredly a pro-life candidate. Which is it?

    October 10, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Josh

    Romney had never met a position he did not like.....the danger of the wave of repubs that have taken power is that under the guise of the financial crisis( created by years of their policies and philosophies) they have exploited the panic to push thru legislation that controls our social behavior and rights...Romney and the repubs are right out of the movie Dr. Strange love can we be so blind to consider a man with such a lack of core beliefs who will rubber stamp the beliefs of a party so clearly primitive and dangerous in their philosophy

    October 10, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Jim

    With Paul Ryan, Pro-Life is paramount to the future of our country.

    October 10, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. marie

    Romney is paying for a surrogate for one of his son's. There is an abortion clause in the surrogate's contract. But I guess that's different...

    October 10, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. LiberalsHate

    Forget all the other huge problems we face. Lets just focus on the distractingly small ones. Like Big Bird!
    CNN I have said it before. You all make me sick. Now Ban me again.

    October 10, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. marie

    *sons (not son's)

    October 10, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. C

    what about his own son that added an abortion clause to the contract with the surrogate parent?

    October 10, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. HUH?

    No more planned parenthood for YOU. Breast cancer doesn't need to be "screened" and found "early". It just needs to be deemed a pre-existing condition that you can bet your "boobs" aren't going to be covered under the Romney Admin.

    October 10, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Wade

    If Obama wants to talk about things that were said in the past he might want to rethink his plan. No one has told more lies or has been a bigger hypocrite or a total flip flopper than Obama has. He could not tell the truth if his life depended on it. I think it is against his religion what ever that is. Even Big Bird is against him now. LOL.

    October 10, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. jeff

    So he is Pro Life, Obama was against gay marriage, until he needed the votes.

    October 10, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. jeep

    Abortion is simply not right and immoral. If the government can spend millions of dollars to protect our animals, endangered species, forest etc. why not initiate a law that can protect human life ? both the mother and the child ? Wake up, abortion is not humane and democrats are willing to push for it, just for political reasons.

    October 10, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. Joy

    Romney and any other Republican President will NEVER make abortion illegal...It would put more people on government assistant programs...Just keep blowing smoke Romney

    October 10, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. Dav

    Aborting is killing a human being, and that is fat.Legalizeing murder does not make it right.

    October 10, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. Donkey Party

    Romney has no core, and will not take a stand on any issue. He's as impressionable as a 4yr old. How could America be so stupid to even consider voting for this clown?

    October 10, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. Rob in MO

    Romney and Ryan are very clear about their advocacy that government should force women to continue unwanted pregnancies against their will. That is tyranny.

    October 10, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Logicthinking10

    Roe vs. Wade allows women to make reproductive choices for themselves. As a moderate I do not mind subsidising education for girls and ladies in order for educational purpose. But forcing the public to pay for birthcontrol, and abortion is where my moderate views stop. If a women makes a choice she should be prepared for the consequence! In this day in age there are various needs to change ones view on abortion, 99% of the time it could be avoided if women chose to protect themselves. I personally am opposed to harvesting embryos for anything other then what nature intended for embryotic cells exsistence.

    October 10, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  22. KMW

    I guess this is why I am voting for Romney as I am a pro-lifer from Boston, MA. Abortion is murder and I cannot understand why anyone would agree with this procedure. I hope abortion is ended once and for all and that is what my pro-life movement group is trying to accomplish. Our fight continues. We will never give up and I pray to an end to abortion.

    October 10, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  23. Dan586

    Tell me what you want to hear Romney is up to it again. I am surprise people would even vote and trust a man like this.

    October 10, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  24. its-twu

    A Vote for Romney is a vote for RomneyCare, only the rich will be able to afford medical treatment.

    October 10, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Who's to say

    The Republican Party is really off the wall. Let's leglislate what we can do with our bodies! A ship of fools.... The Republican feed on the moral majority's stupidity. Most fundamentalist have little or no education, thus they are followers of preachers of hate. The Nazis preyed on the same type of people. It's all about fear and hate. What a sad lot!

    October 10, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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