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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    I guess if its up to the Republicans they will MAKE you do what they want.

    October 10, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. feyangel

    Is anyone foolish enough to believe Romney is going to follow-thru with his "walk-backs" once he is in office? NO– when he has all the power, he will do what fits his paradigm– which is the first thing that came out of his mouth. He is just switching what he says now, cos the polls said he would get fewer votes with his initial statement. So he changed it– to get votes– to win. AND once he is in office, he will do whatever the h*ll he wants.

    October 10, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Steve- Illinois

    If your main issue in this election is someone's right to have an abortion, which is legal, has been for decades, and is almost impossible to have overturned, you are too shallow of a thinker to bother with voting.

    October 10, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Susie

    And why would I, as a woman, trust someone who thinks abortion is ok? Abortion is used in many countries to eliminate girl children in favor of boys.

    October 10, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. canon808

    If women would just keep babies out of their uterus, we wouldn't be back at this over and over again. Is it really that hard to avoid getting pregnant in the 21st century?

    October 10, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  6. N. Shapiro

    The idea that a "soul" enters an embryo at conception has no biblical support, even though some
    individuals have stretched and over interpreted some phrases.
    Ther is a biblical prohibition against one method of abortion, the "cup", probably to protect the mother's health and safety, no other biblical prohibition against abortion exists.
    The "soul "idea may come from an ancient pagan Greek belief that souls reside in beans, waiting for an embryo to enter.
    The whole anti-abortion thing is nuts. There s no soul, or human life, before birth and breath

    October 10, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. Ms. M

    Mr. President, I would like to make a suggestion to you as you prepare for the second debate. Study the video of Sen. Kennedy's debate with Mitt.

    October 10, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Guest

    conflict of interest-Obama attended the wedding of the VP debate moderator-Martha Raddatz who married an obama appointee. The state run media is so crooked and dishonest.

    October 10, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. ForGoodOfAll

    Say NO to flip flop Mitt Romney. He is wacked and dangerous for our country.

    October 10, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. zisee

    It is no big deal, but knowing CNN you will do and say anything. There are no important things like getting people to work, and our economy going.

    October 10, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. Ed FL

    Romney the Mind Changer in Chief must be in his MONTHLY Mood the way he keeps trying to deny/approve what he just said. It must be a MORMON THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. LBLA

    So..... what was the pro-life legislation that Romney is proposing? From reading this article is sounds like Supreme Court Justice nominees count as legislation. Am I missing something?

    October 10, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. NRA

    So like on every other issue Mitt has taken all sides. Etch A Mitt indeed.

    October 10, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney is not disciplined, he's helter skelter and all over the place, and that's not a good sign for a World leader.

    October 10, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Etch-a-sketch. I feel sorry for all the conservatives he conned during the primaries and the moderates he is trying to con now. In the end, money and greed no religion.

    October 10, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. A disappointed Republican

    As a republican, I can't tell you how disappointed I am with the state of the current GOP. As opposed to being moderate, they are morphing into the tea party.
    Obama 2012!

    October 10, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. LA Man

    Sounds like a balanced position that is consistent with Gov. Romney's goal to de-fund programs that are not worthy of borrowing to support.

    October 10, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. LOL

    there are people who actually want to vote for this guy?? hahahha

    October 10, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. fortyseven

    Etch-a-sketch. I feel sorry for all the conservatives he conned during the primaries and the moderates he is trying to con now. In the end, money and greed have no religion.

    October 10, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Yellow Bird

    Just be familiar with this guy. I doubt if he is hiding his 2nd wife like he is hiding his tax returns.

    October 10, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. linda jean

    If Romney appoints a supreme justice to remove Roe vs Wade. Will he also find a juistice to remove the 1964 voting Rights Law? He's the wrong man for president. Too many faces.

    October 10, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. Ann Tiestablishment

    Another reason I will not vote for him. He is the first Republican Presidential Candidate since I have been old enough to vote that will not receive my ballot. But then... neither will his high profile opponent. I am truly excited to see the response for the Libertarian movement on November 6. If you want to make an omelet, you've gotta break a few eggs.

    October 10, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. eqgold

    Romney will say whatever he needs to say at the moment to any particular group to seem the most acceptable. He has a long history of this and it's well known. He's a good salesman. But we're not electing salesman in chief.

    October 10, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. judy

    we all saw the video when mittens said he would do away with planned parent hood. Apparently it has gone the same way as the 47% video. Repos live in another universe and don't seem to notice these things about mitt. Like where are his tax returns why is his money in the caymens.? Why is he ok with abortion then he is not. Why is romney care ok but obama care is not.? Flip Flop and repos just keep backing this twitt. MOre about getting rid of our president than putting someone in office with better policies or ideas. Vote all repos out . They have been working to ruin this country for the last four years just to win elections.

    October 10, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. Lejaune

    At this point, Romney will say anything to get votes. He doesn't believe in anything just as Santorium, Newt and others have said. Etch A Sketch in full operation. He may decide to rename Obama care to Romney care if people don't like to repeal the Obama care, and telling people it's the same thing.

    October 10, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
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