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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Why does Romney even open his mouth? Whenever he does, his campaign people have to back-track what he originally said. Why would any woman support Romney when he lies constantly??? I guess a women who's boyfriend or spouse lies to her would support Mitt Romney. If a man lies to you he is not trustworthy to have your best interest at heart.

    October 10, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. Michelle

    Yes, he is pro-life THIS week.

    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. Paul

    Why are all arguments about pro life about babies being born. What about pro life for adults that may die because, through no fault of their own, cannot get health insurance. This is something the republicans should address. Sad.

    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Tomtomtom

    Romney has never taken a position that he hasn't been willing to change.

    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. JD

    No matter what Romney pulls out of his hat you know it's just a lie to get votes. Like the Navy SEAL he suddenly remembers meeting. The man has no credibility and will say anything, and then retract and shape it, to get votes.

    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. mary

    Romney supports whatever today's audience supports and tomorrow is another day and a different audience. The man cannot be trusted any further than you can throw his ego.

    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. OMG1234

    Let us not forget that his company Bain, was not against abortions. In fact, it made money disposing of aborted fetuses.
    So what is it is okay for a woman to get an abortion so long as you can make money on the abortion?

    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. us_1776

    Progressives have done more to reduce the number of abortions than ALL of the actions of ALL of the rightwingers EVER.

    Progressives helped to ensure women's health care, sex education, contraceptive services and counseling by groups like Planned Parenthood that resulted in the number of abortions last year actually being reduced by over 1 million.


    October 10, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. Ken

    Not surprised that Romney would make a public pronouncement and then have his campaign immediately walk it back. Fewer people hear the walk-back than the original statement. It's a dishonest campaign strategy. "I'm runnung for office, for pete sake".

    October 10, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. lucky18

    Who could trust a guy that flips and flops all the time. You don't know where he stands

    October 10, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Phil from Licking County

    Don't worry... next week he will be against it again, or will he for it?

    October 10, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. bs1

    To all the "woman's issues" voters out there, you need to put those issues on hold for now and focus on the greater threat currently – the new Greater Depression that is fast approaching. The U.S. economy has been so badly damaged over decades of mismanagment by administrations left and right that in this new Greater Depression abortion will be a non-issue since you won't be able to afford one anyway. Rebuilding a balanced and sustainable economy needs to be our primary focus, we can get back to social issues after we are out of the economic mess.

    October 10, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Greg

    The Etch-a-Sketch shakes again!

    October 10, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. BHPT

    Watched "The Choice" on Frontline last night. Came away thinking we only really know about Mitt Romney is that he will do and say ANYTHING to advance the interests of Mitt Romney.

    October 10, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. Mikey

    Like so many issues, Romney is trying to take both sides. This guy can't be trusted because we have no idea what he stands for.

    October 10, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. Ames IA

    Planned Parenthood provides basic health services to millions of women. Go on Romney, should they start going to emergency rooms now – if that is still your "plan" for the uninsured.

    October 10, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. Ms. M

    Mitt is such a liar and hypocrite. He will SAY anything at this point. Reality check, he only cares about the 1% (he mis-spoke when he said 47% did not matter. He meant to say 99%).

    October 10, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. Jack

    This is his religious belief. Fine. But why do I and my wife have to follow his religious belief? Why is the government taking sides and punishing health care providers who do not follow a particular religious belief? Abortion is legal in this country. Get religion out of politics.

    October 10, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. Dave

    It's quite obvious that the only way Mitt Romney knows he might win is to gravitate back to the center...he never was a far right conservative....but his far right supporters must be having fits about right now.

    October 10, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. Dave

    I agree – federal funding doesn't need to given for abortions. If people want one – pay for it themselves.

    October 10, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  21. Anonymous

    I think that we would be doomed if romney takes over.

    October 10, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. KattyH

    He did say he would use an executive order to reinstate a ban on using U.S. dollars to pay for abortions overseas
    Why are we paying for people in other countries to have abortions? WE ARE BROKE!

    October 10, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. pkrbkr

    There he goes again!!! Mr. Flip-Flopper-In Chief! Does this man not have a single issue about which he's been consistent???????? Obama/Biden Forward 2012

    October 10, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. St Xavier

    Voting citizens you had better think twice if your planing on vote for Romney he changes his mind to often, once hes for it then he's not for it

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. scieng1

    Even if the GOP wins both the House and Senate, it is unlikely such legislation would pass. Simply not allowing public money to pay for private abortion choices has no impact on preventing abortion for those who want it. It is not surprising that PP promotes Obama–their abortion services are big money makers for them.

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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