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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Romney will change his mind only to get your vote. I'm afraid if he becomes president there will come a time when he'll really get us in trouble with the world. This man wants to become president so bad that he's been running for president for the last 7 plus years . One good an most important reason to not vote for him is his LDS religion, that religion is a secret religion where woman have no say in the running of the church plus other things. You may not like Obama but you know where he's is coming from unlike Romney the future our future must be protected think twice real HARD before voting.

    October 10, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. Canuck

    Like an iceberg, we can only see 1/10th of Romney and his ideas. The other 9/10ths is well hidden underwater. If you want to see all of it in its ugly truth, then, by all means, vote for Romney.

    October 10, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. pat

    well this guy change position every time all depends on the polls .any thing to win this election ..he Will change position to a democrat policies to grap the women vote bluecolor workers .THE 47 WILL START TO HERE Romney as a Democrat ...wake up America he is not real...

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

    Hi is pro-life when it is convenient, this dude is a piece of work.


    October 10, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Surfer George

    Romney should change his name to Tommy Flanagan end every statement with "yeah, that's the ticket,....."

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. dan

    How can there be a debate about or evaluation of abortion on any level when the so called "right to privacy" prevents statistics from being collected on the procedure on a mandatory basis by government agencies? How can you evaluate anything without information?

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Bill

    Now if Obama changed his mind it is called "evolving".

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. pmn

    Romney has every right to his opinion as any other politician who supports Prochoice. Personally, women and men should considered options to avoid the choice to abort. The results of abortion are emotionally devestating. Anything which forms and grows is living.

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Phil

    While I am opposed to the attempt to make abortion illegal as it would most likely drive some of the most vulnerable (pregnant teenage girls) underground to unsafe procedures, I would agree that it is not something that taxpayer funding should support in any way.

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. Boo

    WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND IS GOING TO VOTE FOR THIS GUY? I have never in all my years of voting have seen such a pandering liar.

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

    Like the well oiled weather vane, Romney continues to switch his message every other week, depending upon who he is talking to at the time. Romney is dishonest, to put it mildly.

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Liz

    A woman's right to choose should remain just that hers the government has no business in creating policies which effect our right to decide what to do with our bodies. It amazes me that in this day and age this is still an issue up for discussion. In the UK this has never in my lifetime been on any politial agenda. A womans right to choose remains just that her right and no one elses.

    October 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  13. USDude

    Roe v. Wade is one of the darkest moments in WORLD history – the number of unnecessary deaths resulting from this ruling is astronomical and continues to grow. Abortion is to the 20th/21st century as slavery was to the 18th/19th century – horrific and inhumane – at a minimum, I want to go "on the record" as standing against this gruesome practice.

    October 10, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. Bob

    Don't know why his remarks saying there is no bill in consideration so he wouldn't sign any bill about abortion is drawing "fire." There is no bill for him to sign if he becomes president to begin with is all he is saying. Not exactly controversial. Regardless, LOOK AT ROMNEY'S PAST. Despite the Obama campaign trying to say otherwise, he is MUCH MORE liberal than Bush. Much more. You say things in a primary that are generally more red meat for your base and then tone it down for the general election. Both sides do it, both Dem and GOP.

    October 10, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. Terry

    Can someone out there please tell me what Mitt Romney stands for? At one time he'll talk about supporting one thing that he opposed previously, then say he opposes it, but would support legislation for it. It isn't just abortion, either. It's everything. I voted for Obama in '08 and would consider switching if I could figure out what his opponent will or won't do. I uinderstand politicking is not governing, but still, you need to be able to get some idea of where a cnadidate stands on things....

    October 10, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. R H

    Blah blah blah, flip flop flip flop flip flop Romney can't tell the truth. Sad a person running for POTUS will blatantly lie about anything and everything. Wake from your hate of O and really think about the character of Romney or lack of.

    October 10, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. Sueb

    How many times did Romney say that one of the first things he would do is defund Planned Parenthood. He hasn't come out against the Virginia governor and legislature and their trans-vaginal probes, or the personhood bills. Once again, Romney pivots and changes his position totally....but the conservatives won't call him on it....the only thing they care about is voting against Obama.

    October 10, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. GI Joe

    Romney has no core. He says what his current crowd wants to hear.

    He is BiBi's lapdog and will take us to war with Iran just because BiBi tells him to.


    I voted Obama/Biden

    October 10, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Francis U. Okafor

    Abortion is not the biggest issue facing this great country. We have a country that is on the brinks of collapse due to bad administrations (both repub and dem) and our focus is abortion. It is to our best interst to leave a better country for our kids instead of pandering for votes. The media is dead and the citizens of this country are the losers.

    October 10, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. ladyfon

    "It's troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues."

    Really, you seem to have no problem playing politics with babies lives.

    October 10, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. FoundingFather

    I could have sworn I saw an interview with this flip-flopper where he stated he fully supported a woman's right to choose. Who knows what this guy would really do.....???????? Big unknown. Stay with the devil you know!!!

    October 10, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Big Jilm

    Just where does this guy stand on anything? I'm confused on what his position is related to a number of things. Clarity on the issues is a problem. Like him or not, at least you know what Obama's position is.

    October 10, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. K. Parks

    Do we NEED to worry about this now? We need a leader to focus on getting this country back on track, not sidtracked by an age old issue. I'm pro-life, but I still don't want the government to tell me what to do any more that it already does..

    October 10, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. NameAlbrit

    Mr.Romney must be on the Obama ticket,for november 6 he will be 100% democrat.

    October 10, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Ann

    Mitt's answers change with the whether.

    October 10, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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