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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. Willard the mormon

    Willard is frist a Mormon. Please people understand his presidency will be inline with the teachings of the Mormon church.

    I hot putting down his faith. I only pointing out you can't change who he is.

    October 10, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Mom

    I keep reading that Romney wants to set women's right back 100 years. Hmmm, that's interesting. I wonder which son or daughter modern women would kill without seeing them die? That is exactly what happens with abortion. I also wonder what the women think they were going to have, a different type of animal? Humans can only produce humans.

    October 10, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Apostle

    In politics they call this changing positions but in the real world we call it flat out lies. This guy has been lying consistently to America hoping we will not remember what he has previously said and defended. God help us if such a person becomes president.

    October 10, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Max

    Why? Just why?

    Why? just why are people...rational people, especially women throwing their support behind Romney whose views on serious issues are like shifting sand? Why are we even paying any attention to what Romney said on these issues when we can't even figure out his position? Why can't we see for ourselves that he is simply taking advantage of us to get our votes?

    What kind of president would he be if elected? Certainly! he will flip flop on major policy issues and etch-a-sketch his way through his undertakings. Isn't it time for us to make up our minds about Romney given hat he can't make up his mind for us?

    Why do we waver like him?

    October 10, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Just Me

    What war one women? Have their private insurance companies take care of those abortions.

    October 10, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Dustin Goldsen

    Note to the far right wing nuts: The liberal former governor of Massachusetts doesn't need you any more. Thanks for your support and good bye.

    October 10, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Jeff

    ... I will add to that last comment. Romney said "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." Seems perfectly sensible and logical to me. Democrats are all for protecting the rights of the innocent, even protecting the rights of animals, except for in this one case. Totally "Alice in Wonderland" style of upside down, backwards thinking. I also think he is speaking mostly to all the people who do this out of convenience. You dems always bring up the rare exceptions so you can justify the vast majority of these procedures, which happen out of selfishness, under the guise of "doing what you will with your body." The truth is, It's not your own body that you are killing. As a society we should allow you to make any choice you want, but there should also be a consequence for killing a human life unless for very rare instances.

    October 10, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. rs

    Gee, Mr. Romney- have you looked at the insane platform your ever more insane party has created around women, reproductive rights and abortion? Yes, I know, this is just another GOP/Romney lie.

    Let's cut to the chase- old, white, rich men should not be writing reproductve law for women.

    October 10, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. John/kc

    Another flip flop. Where does this guy stand on anything? The people that vote for Romney must just simply be anti Obama voters, because they will never know for sure how he stands on any issue.

    October 10, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. CarrotCakeMan

    Willard flip-flops again. Yawn...

    October 10, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Malory Archer


    Can't wait for inauguration day 2013. America will be happy to celebrate our new President, Mitt Romney.

    Morning in America. Keen intelligence and commitment to good governance in the White House. A new prosperity for the entire nation. Hooray!


    Meaningless platitudes. Not unlike the challenger. Dog help us all if Americans are so gullible that they'll elect a fast-talking used snake oil salesman who flip flops more than a trained dolphin at a theme park – especially after his 47% comments spoken in "quiet rooms".

    October 10, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Full Name

    Chris, you do realize that he just said he will not do anything against abortions, right? Flip flopping on this as everything else. He makes a used car salesman seem like a saint.

    October 10, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Greg

    WOW..He changes his position daily. I know I can't trust him. President Obama has made some mistakes but putting Mitt in the White House would be a disaster!

    October 10, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Charles Collver

    This is exactly what I want in a president. Good for Gov. Romney. I vote Pro Life. I will vote for Gov. Romney. The lives of our unborn children here in America are in our hands. Choose Life before you vote for President.

    October 10, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. chris

    I hope all you libs move to Canada when Romney takes office. We can get this country going again.

    October 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. lindaluttrell

    Mitt Romney: Tireless Crusader for the Poor and Women's Rights...NOT!

    October 10, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. elzira

    Whats wrong with that? We barely have money to feed our people. Why should we pay for some man to relieve himself into a whore? You play you pay! Those poor bastards are walking around sticking their teeny And i do mean tiny teeny weenies in sluts And creating little bastards. they have every right to do so, but its none of our business. Why should we care? We need to educate our little angels in america. Romney is right.

    October 10, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. Jack

    Big Bird's had a busy schedule in making appearances across the country; I just wonder how Michelle Obama can stand the heat inside that costume.

    Between Big Bird, Pelosi, Reid & 'Short-Bus' Biden, this campaign has an all-star cast of superstar clowns, they will be missed.

    October 10, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. bob

    Obama may not have gotten everything done that I would have liked, but this guy has no solid positions. I'm afraid he would sell his presidential signature on any piece of legislation, to the highest bidder. I would like to vote for someone other than Obama, but this guy is jello. At least with Obama I know what I'm in for.

    October 10, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. Vickie

    that's right no more paying for abortions with my tax dollars especially in other countries how did that ever start.

    October 10, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  21. Mojo31

    Why is this newsworthy?

    October 10, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. RapidRay

    This is all just talk. In the years since Roe V. Wade, NO Republican President (there's been 4 of them totaling 26 years of time) has ever challenged it in the Supreme Court with a viable case. Not unlike claims that de-regulation is a better option, the government instituted over 40,00 regulations under G.W. Bush and limited the REAL benefits of de-regging to the wealthy of this nation. When those seeking to lead the Executive Branch decide to bypass the laws of this country by stating they will change them for the benefit of gaining votes and dictating moral values, we are obligated to point them out and preserve the freedoms we are given by the Constitution to make our own choices in regards to what we feel is just. Pro life or Pro abortion...these are OUR choices to make, not the Government's to enforce.

    October 10, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. Mom in VA

    I don't understand why our government has any say if abortion is legal let alone a choice. If our government reverses Roe v. Wade, doctors (and others) will perform "illegal" abortions just as they did in the past. The women who have to make this choice ~ for whatever reason ~ should be counseled on all options (keep the baby, give the baby up for adoption or abortion). She is the one who has to live with her decision for the rest of her life ~ not our government.

    October 10, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. kpra70

    so let me get this straight. those of you who are pitching fits are FOR our foreign aid money funding abortions .. this isn't about our country – this is about aid to other countries – which we give too much of already.....

    October 10, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. Ed

    "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.

    But there might be some legislation in your agenda that you haven't be told about?

    October 10, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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