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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. Lee-Anne

    So? The Government shouldn't be giving money to organizations to do abortions. If you believe in them, fine, that is your right, but let the government stay out of it.

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Larry in Houston

    I would also like to add to my last comment – IF romney wins – it's bye – bye to the E.P.A. (in other words, they will put them in chains for awhile) – I'm a democrat, and I also think everytime a democrat is in the white house, the E.P.A. has a strangle hold on the democrats, and they let them get by with it. But the Republicans aren't afraid of the EPA –
    I mean, it's getting so that If you own and operate a lemonade stand out in the street or sidewalk. and you accidentally spill a cup of lemonade on the curb, the EPA will either want to shut your business down, or fine you so much, to the point where you will have to go out of business. Believe me, if a republican gets elected, the EPA crap will stop.

    I mean, where does it end ? Are they eventually going to fine you, or is it going to be a felony to spit in the woods ?
    How about the "bull pen" in a major league baseball game ? Is the E P A going to step in ? and Fine all the guys that spit in the bull pen ?

    Bottom line : It's getting ridiculous – The EPA should be stopped, before they get too big !

    May the Best Man Win

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Cs

    Once again he lies through his teeth! Really, this is what some people want as their President? Lies, take away a woman's right that she fought so hard for...if men could get pregnant, this wouldn't even be an issue!!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. skylark@73

    Another example of why abortion should be legal.
    M.R. is the perfect poster boy!

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  5. reality

    Really, CNN? Your "political unit" doesn't understand the difference between policy, legislation, and court selection? Once upon a time we had a media that pointed out such ridiculuous attempts at manipulating coverage instead of happily permitting it.

    October 10, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  6. Kurt

    Mitt will say anything

    October 10, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Gerg

    Here we go...the party of "NO" closing in on your freedom of choice, and freedom to gather in public places as they put the squeeze on Planned Parenthood. As long as you can afford it, it is OK - knowing full well that PP and other outlying clinics cannot hope to survive if they are not at least partially funded. Really no sense at all about the poor int his country - it is a subtle way to deny your ability to choose AND promote their medieval agenda. BTW, the same thing goes for Health Care - everyone can "choose" under Romney's plan - as long as you can afford the premiums on the Health Care plan that you NEED. Unless of course, you won't be covered due to pre-existing conditions.

    October 10, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. Debbie Lou

    The day Romney can show proof that he has a uterus is the day he should start talking about what women are allowed to do with their own bodies!!!

    October 10, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. Ryan

    Flip flop flip flop... What do you want me to say? I 'll say anything!!!

    October 10, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  10. know's from experience

    I don't see where the statement “Governor Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.” is any different than being Pro-Life. This is just another case of the media trying to create controversy. As for "legitimate rape" rarely resulting in pregnancy, that "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." is not always the case, but being a man how would he know how a women's body works?

    October 10, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. munkeeman

    Proof once again that Mitt will say anything to get elected. The only reason Mitt wants to be president is because it's the only thing he hasn't bought yet. Mitt would sell his soul if he thought it would bring him more power and wealth. Oh wait, Mitt sold his soul to Karl Rove already.

    October 10, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. joan

    Woh, this man is a pathetic liar. I am amazed that the American people allow this man to get a way with all these lies. It is very sad for all people becaue he said he is a man that believe in God. Yet he breaks one of the commandment each time he opens his mouth. Wake up people this is not the man you want in the Whitehouse. He will be worse that Dick Chenney.

    October 10, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. mary

    So he considers the economy a more pressing issue right now. He also has said he would not allow funds from America towards the murder of babies overseas. Was it not Obama in 08 that said he was prolife and pro traditional marriage? Go after his record b/c he never tells the truth.

    October 10, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  14. clubschadenfreude

    again and again, Romney says contradictory things about allowing women free choice when it comes to their health. He is a liar and an inept one. It's a pity that so many people evidently don't care about that, more concerned about attempting to force their personal choices on others. It does show that they are not actually interested in their professed religion at all. If they were, then liars would be anathema to them as they are supposedly to their god.

    October 10, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. nothing new here

    The great flip-flopper is at it again.
    Why couldn't the Republicans just played it smart, and nominated Ron Paul?

    October 10, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. TTbala

    Good God, is anybody going to vote for this idiot, he has not said one thing since beginning of his campaigne and stuck to it, he changes his position according to which way the wind is blowing, do we need someone this stupid to to sit in the Oval Office and ruin this country, where are all these reporters supposedly traveling with Romney does anybody calls him on his lies the man is lying his way through the campaign to the White House, com on America we are a lot smarter than this.

    October 10, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    Can the Supreme Court hold the President in contempt of court? Because that's what this is, in reality. The Supreme Court found abortion to be allowed under the Constitution but Romney doesn't care about that. (I also wonder at his mis-characterization of organizations as motivating or coercing people to have abortions. The only time I've heard of that is from right-wing politicians. There are organizations providing abortions, but none that are pushing people to have them, as far as I know. If Romney knew any facts I'm sure he would mention names so this is just more of his lies.)

    October 10, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. Trumiph, the dog

    The government needs to have a smaller role in people's lives... unless you are a victim of rape or gay, then you better believe it should have a say in what happens to you (/sarcasm)

    October 10, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Martin Walters Seattle

    A vote for Romney is a vote for what platform ? What future? What policy? Too many flip flops for me to know. I know Obama/Biden and they are taking the USA in an ever improving direction.

    October 10, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Sheelah

    Still wondering if Romney knows what he stands for.

    October 10, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Jake

    I'm with Romney on this matter!

    October 10, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. mustangvoodoo1

    Governor Romney is the poster child for the movement of," Hypocrisy knows no bounds!!" Romney has done a bang up job of telling anyone who will listen,"Why Obama does NOT deserve another four years!!" Yet that is all he talks about!! He makes bold promises yet he refuses to divulge exactly what his administration will do and how they will do it. He boasts of a five trillion tax cut, yet again offers no specifics on how that will happen.

    It should be clear to all that Romney will flip flop on the issues whenever they suit his needs. Make no mistake, Obama has had a rough four year term. Yet what nobody sees is that all the promises he made, he did in fact attempt to put these reforms and programs into action. Republican House Majority leader John Bohner has openly told the press that he and the GOP have no interest in helping Obama to impliment the reforms/programs promised. The GOP will do what it needs to do to make Obama a one term president

    October 10, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Old Soldier

    suprise suprise! Romney flip flops? Say it ain't so!

    October 10, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. Jesus is Lord

    How is this a stand on Women's rights? If you decied to get an abortion, which is a women's right. Why should the entire country have to fund your right? As Christian I don't believe in abortion, but those who do...I shouldn't have to pay for something that I don't believe in...

    October 10, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. JackHughes

    Typically, Romney was ardently pro-choice as governor of Massachusetts, militantly anti-abortion for the Republican base, ambiguous for the general electorate, and an utter mystery as to how he would actually govern if elected president.

    Mitt Romney is the Schrodinger's Cat of presidential candidates.

    October 10, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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