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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. Ed in Reno, Nevada

    All aboard the Mitt mobile! He'll just keep driving around until he finds a position he thinks you'll like.

    October 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. Bus2Futhur

    God help us all.

    October 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. ted

    Wouldn't it just be easier for the LIberal media to stop rotting the brains of our youth with what you offer as entertainment?
    You guys are quite good at Propaganda disguised as Entertainment, why not brainwash those little brats into abstinence?
    Shows and Musical acts that touts keeping your legs closed, I mean you have no problem bombarding our preteen and youth with "I kissed a girl and I liked it". Could what I'm proposing be any more creepy?

    October 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Kiss

    Sounds good to me. He won't stop you from getting one. We just don't want to pay for it. That is fair

    October 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. ted

    Well that didn't take long

    October 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. geggyg

    The Mexico City Policy denies funds to foreign groups that provide abortion services and other contraceptive devices even if the US govt aid funds are quarantined AND NOT used for these services. This rule has also affected the supply of other contraceptive devices (IUDS and condoms etc). It has also affected organisations that just do sex education , if they mention abortion as an option then they do not receive funding to provide sex education.

    October 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. mcskadittle

    so which romney would we get as president? or would that change from day to day too?

    October 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Jenna NYC

    He has more important things to focus on such as the economy, the economy, and the economy.

    October 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Hillcrester

    Too bad for Mittens that he doesn't know from day to day what he stands for. That's the mark if a blatant panderer.

    October 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. PL

    When he sees no way out for lack of preparation, he clings on to his Mormon teachings.

    October 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Khaleeshi

    You just can't trust a word that comes out of Romney's mouth – is there any stand that he has taken and stuck by it? He says one thing one day and then the opposite the next day. What does Romney really stand for? No one knows – not even Romney.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. CTEd

    SCOTUS is the best reason to reelect Obama. the next pres could nominate 2 justices, possibly 3, but likely 2. Romney with 2 more justices would mean the corporations win we will get more like Citizens United, and a court willing to impose religious law on the country. Scary stuff. a couple more democratic presidents to get a solid majority and i could vote for a republican but their narrow aim at nominating judges that want to restrict citizen's freedom (and expand corporate freedom) is not what this country needs.

    Most people support choice, most people support exceptions for rape and incest, most people support stem cell research. Stop trying to restrict people's rights as your main over arching focus.

    October 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. skarphace

    Once again, just like with the tax cut issue, Romney says one thing and then his campaign says something completely different. Either this is on purpose or it is not.

    If this is not on purpose, then Romney needs to fire his campaign staff for spreading lies about him. However, this is probably on purppose and was planned just before the first debate.

    Why would Romney tell his staff to contradict his statements? So that he can appear to be more moderate than he really is. Anybody who believes that it is this 'new Romney' that would reside as President is not paying attention. It is the 'severly conservative' Romney who's policy is based on Ryan's policy that would reside.

    October 10, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Fred Evil

    Etch-A-Sketch hard at work. Don't worry if he says something you don't like or agree with, he will be back shortly to say something different.
    Principles? Romney can look it up in a dictionary for you!

    October 10, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Tomas Rybar

    I am pro abortion, I am pro gay marriage ... I am pro Romney! We can't have discussion about issues without economy, Obama killed with ideological and social "issues" without compromise! Obama is done, he is finished, he is not working here anymore!

    October 10, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. An Observer

    Is this another etch-a-sketch moment for Romney? Will the Twit ever take a firm position on anything except tax cuts for the rich? This guy is a poor excuse for a human being and does not have the moral fiber to be President of the United States of America!

    October 10, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |

    For a party that talks about less government, they sure do want to get women under their control.

    October 10, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Resurrection Joe

    Sorry Mitt-you're running for President of the United States, not Mexico! This just goes to show just how out-of-touch he and Paul Ryan (Dumb & Dumber) are...Sheesh, this is the BEST the Republicans can do???

    October 10, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. Senior Citizen

    Gotta love the Republican Party who are against paying for birth control for women, but it's perfectly fine for men to get Viagra. Since we have "ways to shut down" according to Todd Akin and the men should be punished in the case of rape,usually a slap on the hand, I guess that lets them off the hook. What about the woman who gets pregnant, has to carry the baby of a rapest and probably doesn't have insurance to pay for proper care. Then once she has the baby might have to go on Welfare and becomes part of Romney's 47%. I'm sure if she's married and this happens, unless she has a very understanding husband who is willing to raise a rapests child both she and the child will pay for this act the rest of their lives, when maybe the morning after pill could have prevented it or if she was on birth control pills that could have prevented it in the first place.

    October 10, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. roadkilled

    What a tricky tightrope, Romney tries to walk! The hypocrisy oozes.

    October 10, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Grady

    I was for it before, now I am against wait...I was against it before, but now I am for it...actually, I really don't recall what I was for or against but I will stand behind my position...whatever it was.

    October 10, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. RW

    Even the Republicans realize that Romney is a "Flip-Flopper", which is fine for the 1%, knowing he will cave to their every whim and pleasure.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. policies not rhetoric

    i just cannot vote for this guy. way too many problems with him. but i guess if he is pres.
    then maybe we can all count on that history that he changes positions so much that maybe
    he wouldn't remember what he'd said on what day and truly reasonable legislators can us
    that to their advantage, one thing is for sure SNL will have much better material.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. thinkaboutit

    still another flip-flop-flip. romney will say anything. no danger of hearing the truth out of his mouth. have some fun. ask anyone who bought his bs in the debate to repeat one true statement – or to tell u his first name! he sounded like a bad car deal.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Bruce Carter

    I would be pro-choice if the baby had a say in the matter.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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