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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. ksm2012

    Liberals just love to make strawmen to get the idiot base all excited. Romney has no great powers over abortion – that question was settled long ago by the Supreme Court. Only liberals get all breathless over this non-issue.

    October 10, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. Peter

    again Mitt? Mr. Flippity Flop.....

    October 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Life is precious. I think every one has a right to make a decision about abortion but I don't think that the goverment needs to fund abortions. If you want an for it yourself. That is the bottom line. You can pay for your groceries,taxes and other things that are important to you.We have abortion clinics in the US that are clean and available now and you don't have to go to back street butchers.

    October 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. linda

    This man is a Wolf in Sheep's clothing.....he will say anything to get elected, even if that means changing every issue he has supported in the past or not supported to try to get the womens vote. One thing for sure if he is President besides taking away womens rights, he will welch on immigration, he will sell out the Seniors by distroying our medicare and Social Security and you can take this to the BANK he will have us in another WAR before he finishes his first year in office......This man can not be trusted......he has flip flopped on every can people be so dumb that they can't see through him.....

    October 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Zoby

    Romney is the man of 1000 faces. He will say anything to any particular group on the spot if he thinks it will earn him votes and then changes his story shortly there after.

    Do you want a man like that to be president?

    October 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. NameMark Hudson

    Now that women voters are turning to Romney the opposition will say and do everything to convince women Romney would overturn Roe v. Wade. Simply not true. Romney will support the law.

    October 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Jo

    Oh and Obama hasn't flip flopped when he said he supported one man and one woman as marriage and now actively is working to overturn DOMA as well as support same-sex marriage?!

    October 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Mark

    To all of you posters bashing Romney for his change of position. He changed his position long ago as Governor, so this whole time as Candidate, nothing has changed. Obama's position on many things including Gay marriage was "evolving" ????? Right??? Obama evolves and Mitt changes??? As cameo said "Talking out the side of your necks"

    October 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. RL

    Robert – How can you compare abortion to the Holocaust? Are you insane? Another right wing nut job!

    October 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. dbrock

    The choice seems clear to me. If politicians want to divide the country on one divisive issue and if that issue is important to you, then you vote for the one that sides with your own personal bias. For me, the economy, jobs and foreign policy are much more important. Oh, and don't forget the most epic of all issues–Big Bird!

    October 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Doug

    If you think Democrats value life after birth go check out a great society Democrat 100% controlled district for the last 40 years where people are killed on the streets day in and day out by Democrat design. Go drive in an ultra blue area where most drivers are Democrats and witness their total disregard for the lives of others.

    October 10, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. rosco

    more distractions to what a crappy job our inept pres has done
    very good obambam zombies today
    1. make excuse
    2. point & blame (normally bush)
    3. if cant blame on bush call them liars
    it was terrific watching the inept one getting his A$$ handed to him in the debate

    October 10, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Joe

    I am completely anti-choice when it comes to what is scientifically proven to be murder. I'm tired of people making this a womens' rights issue, more than half of the babies aborted are female, and just because the baby is "in your body" does not mean it IS your body. So I am pro-woman, and pro-choice (their choice to not copulate or use appropriate birth control). I'm also pro-death-penalty for rape, just for the criminal and not the child. I also support adoption assistance and social programs for impoverished mothers.

    Romney misses on all fronts. Decrease social programs, and promises to do nothing about abortion because he 'personally opposes it.' If you, like me, believe that abortion is murder, then Romney's position should be even more disgusting than Obama's. At least Obama and the 'pro-choice' groups have convinced themselves (with no scientific basis – only mildly insane rants about 'rights to choose') they're not ending the life of a human being.

    Romney knows it's murder and promises to do nothing about it. And then his Bain Capital profits from the disposal of the aborted bodies. Who in the world can stand this man?

    October 10, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. kenhbradshaw

    I find Romney competent and consistent. Those who argue that he flip-flops should be happy. At least he will agree with them 50% of the time. But I suspect, what they really mean his he is consistent in his agenda that they oppose and that he is lying to get there. I don't even agree with that. I like that in the debates he put his agenda on the line. Lets argue the difference in approach. And not make this election about vilifying one or the other.

    October 10, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Carol

    Who does he think he's kidding!

    October 10, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Rob

    Pro-choice? Fine. Believe a woman should have the right to her own body? Fine. Think abortions should remain legal? Fine. However, if it's tax payer dollars funding your abortion; not fine.

    October 10, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. Name mike godair

    So, romney wont force taxpayers to pay for abortion? and this is a bad thing? I think not .

    October 10, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. USA4EVER

    REALLY? The media and liberal in general look for every possible way to paint a negative picture of Romney. First, it was he is out of touch and hates the poor and middle class. Then came the DEBATE. Opps, open minded Americans saw a different Romney then they heard abouit via the Obama Lappy news organizations. And they say a totally incompetent President without his tele-prompter and lay-up questions. Now, he is a liar and hates Big Bird. Other then you liberal the rest of AMerica is sick of this BS. SMear campaign is all they have. Most people run on what they accomplished as a way to be judged. Not this President. Why? Because he has done NOTHING good!

    October 10, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Tired of This

    I want smaller government, but you can't kill that growth in your uterus. My religious beliefs will govern you no matter what you believe in because I know better than you. Yeah vote for him, we shall get what we deserve.

    October 10, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. kenhbradshaw

    I find Romney competent and consistent. Those who argue that he flip-flops should be happy. At least he will agree with them 50% of the time. But I suspect, what they really mean his he is consistent in his agenda that they oppose and that he is lying to get there. I don't even agree with that. I like that in the debates he put his agenda on the line. Lets argue the differences in approach. And not make this election about vilifying one side or the other.

    October 10, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. Hilda Cannella

    Republicans do not believe in abortion, but in killing innocent people in wars, they opposed to pro~choice cause government is the only one can kill our children in wars....that's pro~life?

    October 10, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. griffbos

    if you believe his lastest Statement I have a bridge to sell you America.....that is all I have to say about Mitt Romney

    October 10, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. Matt Hicks

    “Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” That is the Republican Platform with regards to Abortion, Romney is the standard bearer of the Republican party, he has run and campaigned on this platform. He can say he has no plans, but he will just be a rubber stamp to the Republicans in the House. I thought Sybil had a lot of personalities, can't we leave the decision up to women and our women legislators?

    October 10, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. karen

    When does it become a life...when it's born? Why? Because then it can live without it's mother? Maybe...but so can a test tube baby. Sure, but a test tube baby is still receivining support from humans. Yes, but so is a one year old or a two year old, even if the support it receives is not from its mother. One year olds and two year olds can't survive on their own. So should we be able to kill children until they become self sufficient? It's all arbitrary, your definition of life. Either life begins at conception, or babies should be allowed to be killed until they can support themselves. It's been turned into a matter of convenience. And critics would say: "there's nothing convenient about abortion." Sure there is, otherwise why would people do it? It takes more effort on the part of a mother to raise a child than it does to simply destroy it.

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

    Regardless of how they feel about any other issue, all Americans need to accept this fact: The next time the Republicans control the Presidency and both houses of Congress, all abortions and many forms of contraception will be outlawed.

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