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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. tv22

    The real issue is that Mitt probably doesn't care about these social issues one way or another, he is focused on the economy and the budget. Pols on both sides make way too much of an issue out of these inflammatory topics like abortion.

    October 10, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. cwgmpls

    So, if a person votes for Romney, do they get to indicate which Romney they are voting for?

    October 10, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. auditna

    He says what he needs to say to be elected. He scares me. Watch The daily Show as they reveal the flip-floping of Mitt and his clan of liars.

    October 10, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. mike

    Where's the issue here?

    October 10, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Lar5

    Why all this useless discussion?
    Romney was for abortion rights before he was against them and now is for them but by tomorrow will be against them. Get it! It's so simple even a flip flopper would understand.

    October 10, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Tim

    You want less abortions? Then provide widespread access to birth control you dolts. That is hands down the most effective way to prevent abortion.

    October 10, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Jamez

    Wow, I love wearing sandals but flip-flops are annoying.

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Dan Lambert

    This seems pretty reasonable – I don't want my tax dollars going to kill babies

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. Jean

    So, Mr. moderate shows up again. This man switches sides so often and so fast that it makes a person dizzy. Which Mitt Romney will show up next time? Isn't anyone paying attention?? He will say anything to be the man of the hour, tailoring his remarks to the audience he is standing in front of. Which is it? Taxes or no taxes, abortion or no abortion, health care of no health care, man of the little people or the elite? Who knows, The troubling thing is people WEREN"T paying attention and suddenly saw this reasonable person...the seme person who last week was carrying the banner of the T party and dissing hearly half of the population in front of an audience of millipnaires. Is this what we really want?? A chamilion?.

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Nurse143

    Romney will say whatever it takes to get elected, but his policies will be detrimental to women, the poor, the young, the old, the gay, etc. One cannot honestly call themselves pro-life if they refuse to feed, educate or provide basic health care to the embryo they insisted must be born.

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Melissa

    Would the real Mitt Romney please stand up?? Lying for the lord

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Lorraine Cannon

    Mr Romney
    Has never been in situations
    Where a state funds
    Are needed in a crisis.

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. Ed Churchill

    Just ANOTHER flip flop and an etch-a-sketch political comment - hoping that pro-life will remember his previous statements and and all others will only have seen this side of romney - notice the small caps, he is not deserving of even being copable once in office if elected

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. HillClimber

    Government has no right to decide whether an abortion should be performed. The government has but two responsibilities regarding any abortion:
    One – To assure that the person performing the abortion is properly trained and licensed to perform the procedure.
    Two – To assure that the facility used for the procedure is on par with other facilities that perform medical procedures as relates to the safety and sanitation of the facility.

    October 10, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Tee girl

    Here comes the flip-flopper, always changing his mind/plans. He's unreliable and can't be trusted. He's like a chameleon, always changing his beliefs in desperation to get elected.

    October 10, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This still baffles me as to why this is an issue for the presidential (and other) campaigns. This has taken up way too much time and should be a minor issue. People who vote on this single issue (or any one single issue) should be made aware that this isn't the only thing out there.

    October 10, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. James

    So you are telling me a Mormon is against abortion? Whoa that's big news right there!

    October 10, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Dennis Price

    Well, who besides me is not surprised by this. Now Mitt will insist that he never said that he would present legislation to end abortion. Just another flip-FLOP from this guy. This is when all the conservatives rush to his defense and say he's telling the truth. Anything to buy this election. Just say what he thinks people want to hear. Of course he won't preclude his fellow trolls in congress won't try on their own.
    And the beat goes on people.

    October 10, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. blackhawkmom

    If anyone would take the time to research what Romney has said over the last eight years regarding any subject, they wouldn't believe anything he says. He changes his position to what is necessary to get him elected to any/every office.

    October 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. me

    abortion should be on that list...... put a STOP to it.

    October 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. sniknejpiks

    sad we need to have this legislated. these types of issues have no place in political arenas.

    October 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. MakeThemEatCake

    If the GOP really wants to be defined as pro-life then they need to abolish the death penalty as well. I know the argument is going to be the crimminal chose their action but then call yourself anti-abortion. If life is sacred then all life is sacred. this is like calling business owners 'job creators'. you're not a job creator unless your attitude is to create jobs as often as possible. you are not pro-life unless your attitude is that all life is sacred. Call yourself anti-abortion and I can live with it. I may not agree with your stand on abortion but at least we will agree on what we call you.

    October 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  23. David

    Another ridiculous non-story. Get with the program CNN! Our country is in shambles and the rest of the world is falling apart and we are in the midst of a campaign to determine who is the best candidate to stop the bleeding. Yet, with all this, CNN can only think to print a story to reiterate what we already know, that Romney is pro-life??? And yeah, no matter which side of that debate you are on Federal dollars should NEVER fund a single abortion. PERIOD.

    October 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. Clarissa

    "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"

    THAT was the darkest moment in Supreme Court history?
    Not colonization or the transatlantic slave history? The legal eradication of every racial ethnic group? Oh Romney you are so out of touch with the rest of reality.

    October 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. Dang

    All we had to do was wait, we knew he would open his mouth again. So much for his 1 pt increase in polls.

    October 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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