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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    He is a YES, NO, YES, NO, YES, NO ...... man.

    October 10, 2012 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  2. Johan S

    There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney said. Basically, he's leaving a wide open door for him to enact such legislation by simply saying "it WAS on my agenda, i just wasn't familiar with it". What we are seeing is big time politician double talk. Why can't he make a firm statement about what he'll do ? I don't think Democrats OR Republicans know what he'll do with regards to abortion. One thing is clear, if you want to reduce the number of abortions and abortion related deaths, vote for the party that will not drive it underground. Vote for the party that will make sure kids are able to discuss abortion options legally instead of having to decide for themselves and seek underground methods. Republicans don't reduce abortion. They reverse the trend of abortion reductions. Romney will cause an increase in abortions. A vote for Romney is a vote for abortion.

    October 10, 2012 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  3. MashaSobaka

    There is no reason for any US citizen to trust this man. I can't believe that so many people do.

    October 10, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  4. Land of Ice and Snow

    ISmart man. Obama wishes he had thought of it first.

    October 10, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  5. a slozomby

    what is this his 30th reversal of position on this issue?

    October 10, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  6. Iamnotfooled

    Well why did the Republican House spend most of the last two years on bills about abortion? What a waste of time and money. These guys are useless. I guess its a slap in the face by Romney to them. " 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.

    October 10, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  7. he said she said.

    Why should ANY president have to choose what people do to their bodies? Will he/she have to chose how much we eat too? Political game show.
    Romney 2012

    October 10, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  8. DocReality

    CNN. Really super coverage right here. So we've got four more weeks of this krahp, and at this point I think anyone on here with a PULSE knows that whatever Mitt Romney says or does will result in a story from you conveying Democrat criticism.

    The problem is you do it on stupid stuff. You can't entertain the notion of having abortions without a STABLE ECONOMY because they COST MONEY.

    Again, we're back to the economy...which stinks, which Obama didn't fix, and didn't so deliberately. I understand it's going to get dirtier by the day. And Mitt and Repubs are much more up for the punch given the fact someone didn't even bother to put on their gloves last week.

    October 10, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  9. James Huffer

    Naturally a poligamy practitioner would want all impregnations to take in order to spread the gene pool of members of their cult. Even those of "ligitimate" rapes. Republican poor little rich kids running America is an insult to intelligence!

    October 10, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  10. Lord Vader

    I say we should sterilize all newborns and when the baby grows old into adulthood and can prove they are financially responsible then reverse the sterilization. The price should be $25,000 and no insurance co-pay allowed. This would end the abortion debate.

    October 10, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  11. Jason

    Romney is a flip-floper and cannot be trusted to run this country.

    October 10, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  12. luke,az

    Unbelievable. Gov. Romney does not have any core convictions. He will say anything at anytime to anyone to get their votes. He is the perfect candidate for the 1%.

    October 10, 2012 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  13. Lady Mabelyine

    This guy gives me the shivers. Where does he stand on anything? It doesn't matter where you stand. When I vote,I want to vote for for someone who knows and says where they stand.

    October 10, 2012 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  14. CJ

    C'mon liberal CNN is that the best you can do? How about when Obama stated he was against gay marriage, but then changed his mind and is now for it...that was okay I guess? People change their minds. Get over it.

    October 10, 2012 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  15. spangler

    The usual GOP ruse is to talk economics during the campaign but, once elected, change the agenda to teaching creationism in schools, seeking to annul all presently legal gay marriages, insure that all fertile women have one baby per year and compose prayers that all must recite at various events.

    October 10, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  16. Bill

    Remember when Romney pretended to be pro-choice to win the MA governorship? Now he's gone far right and anti-choice because to appease the wackos on the far right. This guy will do anything to get elected and nothing he says can be trusted.

    October 10, 2012 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  17. andrew

    Look, we ALL hate it when women have to abort. This is rooted deep in our very SOULS! But rooted even deeper, is to defend women who must do it from men who would make rules by force against a woman's right to ever do it So there are TONS of us guys who will stand ground between our girl and nosey fork tongued politicians who seek to MAKE RULES on our women and control them behind our backs. We will NEVER let other men CONTROL our women. A man who tries to control my wife by his own rules is surely a dead man. I'll not allow it – not allow or have it happen. You'll need to put a bullet in my head before you get to control my wife with your rules. Are we clear? What else do you need to know to move past this? You'll not EVER get to do that; do you understand me?

    October 10, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  18. Steve

    He's a liar, plain and simple. A shapeshifter who will say anything to get elected. What a disgrace.

    October 10, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  19. smithdp

    Wow, this guy is slippery. Buyer beware. Between hin and Lyin Paul Ryan somewhere Richard Nixon is smiling.

    October 10, 2012 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  20. Cookie44

    Why is it OK for a Democratic President to put a Supreme Court Justice in who is pro death because it is his or her belief & not OK for a Republican President to put a Supreme Court Justice in who is pro life because it is his or her belief? Makes no sense to me.

    October 10, 2012 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  21. PaulC

    Romney is the ultimate dodge artist.
    If you don't like his position on a subject now just wait a minute and he will change it.

    October 10, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  22. Jake braiden

    Are the American’s ready for a mormon president, will he take the oath on the Bible (not correct all the way so say the Mormons) or on the book of Mormon if he should take office?

    October 10, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  23. SadPanda

    The only actual unfotunate thing is that he would not sponsor such bills.

    Pro-Life Argument – Grants Value to Another.
    Pro-Choice Argument – Devalues Potential Life.

    Pro-Life Argument – Encourages Sacrifice Of Your Needs
    Pro-Choice Argument – Encourages Selfishness

    Which one is the moral one?

    October 10, 2012 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  24. gaunt

    Fliip flop, flip flop.

    Another day, another position.

    October 10, 2012 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  25. Epidi

    I wish Republicans would stay out of my VJJ & uterus – it's getting too crowded in there!

    October 10, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
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