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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Romney LIES, anything to get elected. He will trash the women and their rights to health care.

    October 10, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Sheon1

    Once again Romey has proven to be Liar! When are some of you gonna get is? This man will lie again and again to be president!

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. BLKMANinAmerica

    No one can or should ever trust robo Romeny.

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. claudine

    i am so tired of this guy. i am so mad that president Obama didn't show america what a lyer he is. i am just waiting for election to STOP his flips flops once and for all. JUST STOP CAMOUFLAGING MR FROG, WE CAN SEE YOU.

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. Mr Gus

    “We have to respect women in all those choices that they make."- Ann Romney 4/12

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  6. Truth Teller

    In other words he Flip Flops more than a beach bums sandals.

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. sumguy2006

    Considering a good majority of Americans identify as pro-life, vs. pro-choice, I would say that this is far from a bad thing for him.

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Pamela

    This is a lame article. Since you can't get to ridicule Romney on the real issues, CNN is now trying to make one out of this. It's pathetic. I guess killing an unborn child on his/her last trimester is OK, but considering the life of such unborn is a crime that deserves ridicule. In the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother being in danger, Romney has agreed that abortion is an option, but u guys want to politicize everything he says to support Obama, and it's truly pathetic.

    October 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Ken

    He is a classic flip flopper – like a fish on a boat.

    October 10, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. TheTraveler

    How long will it take people to realize that ROMNEY is actually spelled FAIL?

    October 10, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. Solitaire

    Romney can't legislate his way around the Constitutional protections that provide for a woman's right to access safe abortions.

    October 10, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. superlogi

    Big Bird and now abortion with the country's economy and foreign policy going down in flames.

    October 10, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. Jen in NC

    Romney's stance on abortion is far less extreme than Obama's. Obama voted against the Born Alive act, which would protect babies that survive abortion attempts. He was the only senator to vote against it. I still can't figure out what kind of person can be THAT extreme in their pro-choice views. Wake up, America!

    October 10, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  14. Eileen

    Why are the Dems acting like what he said is unusual? There is not any big prominent legislation regarding abortion in the courts at present is what he said, and that's true. So he would simply be following the laws already present. The law prohibiting funding of abortion with federal money by private groups is already is place as is Roe-vs. Wade, which he repeated he would honor. The fact that he privately disagrees with Roe-Wade and wishes it could be overturned is his right to believe and yes, he could attempt to change the laws if he wishes but he says he won't–he will respect the fact that it is already voted on that way. I don't see this as a flip flip; merely that despite what he believes personally and expressed publicly in the past, the law is different now and he will respect that.

    October 10, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  15. Tree

    We all know what Romney will do, look at his VP. People wake please...............................................................

    October 10, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. Blah Blah

    CNN will hype up anything to make Romney look bad. Give it up CNN! Romney will be our new President! Thank God too, because Obama is the worst we have ever seen. Romney 2012!

    October 10, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. V

    He was for it before he was against it, then he was for it again but really is against it. It's hard to keep up with Romney's double talk. The bottom line is Ladies, he will take away your right to make your own decisions and send you back to the backstreet allleys and the dangerous practices of old. Is he going to stop insurance companies from selling Viagra? This double standard and flip flopping on issues is why I can not and will not vote for this man.

    I don't belive abortion should be used for birth control, but I do believe it is a PRIVATE decision between the mother and father. There are many reasons people abort that have nothing to do with birth control. Throwing a blanket on the issue as Romeny/Ryan want to do is not the answer we need.

    October 10, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Mr

    It is ok for true president plans to evolve but not rOmney. Double standard.

    October 10, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. Name Dale arnold

    Can we really trust this guy on any issue? Where is his core?

    October 10, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. ColoradoJoe

    note he does not say that if the republican house pursues the abortion issue, that he would not sign it. Again, he'll let the republican congress be his henchmen and he can still say he kept his word.

    October 10, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. Keane

    President Obama needs to learn to debate a schizophrenic if he's going to have any success with this slippery candidate.

    October 10, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Wrenn_NYC


    I will reiterate.

    The Republican party has held, as a party plank a goal to overturn Roe vs Wade and/or do away with abortion. They have held it for 36 years. Each and every election they trot it out. And then do little about it.

    It does get them votes though. By people who believe that – no – this time – they really mean it.

    And here we have Romney modifying it down to nothing, again (whether he's telling the truth or not). He's either lying to soften the party's stance to get more votes from moderates, or he's telling the truth and tossing the people who will vote republican on this issue alone under the bus.

    October 10, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |

    Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement, that "women simply can't trust (Romney)."... nobody can!! why isn't this more obvious to more people. Obama might not be the best president but he is much better than Romney

    October 10, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. john

    "Candidate Two-Face" is seeming like more and more of an appropriate nickname for Ol' Mitt. Even after his "strong" debate showing, he is still his own worst enemy.

    October 10, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  25. Beth

    In Romney's defense, I have developed much stronger feelings on the topic of abortion since my son was born. It is one thing to change your stance but he makes it sound like he never said "this", or never felt "that", and that kind of flip flopping is what bothers me.

    October 10, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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