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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Romney keeps changing or claims at will that something is not his position, as he likes to say "to the best of my nowledge that is not my position", that anything he says must be subject to verification. As soon as it is verified with his campaigne staff they deny what his new position is and say he misspoke. At this point, why bother listening to anything he says. It's a big waste of our time to square all his positions as they change at every event he holds.

    October 10, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Joe Plumber

    Abortion is legal in this country. Decided by the Supreme Court 40 years ago. You get to keep your guns – we get to keep choice.

    October 10, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Nathan

    The U.S. would not be the only country to implement such a policy. Canada also has implemented the same policy, and considering it has been implemented by virtually every Republican administration this really isn't shocking nor should it really be an issue.

    October 10, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. Name

    They fight so hard to keep the right to kill, and make it sound nice with language like " women's right to chose".

    October 10, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. lunacy in the gop

    Flip – Flop
    Lie Lie Lie

    Same old Mitt different day. How can anyone trust this guy???

    October 10, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. freedom

    First of all – no man or president or government has the right to tell a woman what to do with their body. They will never be pregnant, and do not know what is involved physiologically or psychologically. The abortion issue is very complex – it is not a black and white issue – has large grey areas. Incidentally, it doesn't belong in government at all. This is between the woman, her family, her doctor, and her God (if she believes in one). The biggest argument is not when/how/why to have the abortion – it is that the American people's tax dollars should not be paying for this service. I do not think it should be illegal – but I do think taxes shouldn't pay for it. It's a very private matter, and should remain that way. I believe Romney's views are the more moderate and appropriate ones in this matter.

    October 10, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. SMKO

    This Romney will say do anything to be elected president. He is dishonest deceiving flip flopping man. Being an undecided voter, I respect Obama more and I feel that I can trust him more. A single debate full of lies will not convince me.

    October 10, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Planespoken

    No doubt Mr. Obama is a decent man, but as president he has not accomplished what this country needs most. We desperately need a new president who can fix the economy. That's why current polls shows an increasing number of traditionally pro-abortion voters are going to vote for Mitt Romney in 2012.

    October 10, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. qwerty

    Abotion is simply not right and immoral, if the government spent millions of dollars to protect endangered species, animals, forest and our enviroment, why can't protect human life ? there is already life after conception so killing an innocent baby, even when its still an embryo is simply immoral and not humane. Laws should be initiated instead to protect the mother and child and stiff penalties for rape charges.

    October 10, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. zzzzz

    Romney should talk to Ryan and Ryan's best buddy Akin and aske them why they spent the last 2 years pushing the abortion and other useless political bills without chance of passing.
    One of the reason he chose Ryan was his great "pro-no-choice" views and going after the Catholic vote.
    Can we say that Ryan and Romney are not on the same page?
    Or they will "expand" their platform as it fits them to get ellected.
    I watched Romney's interview with Woolf, there were no specifics again.. Same old rosy lines and CNN gave him a free pass. The "liberal" media has its balls handed to them.
    Lies , Lies and Lies, and Romney has taken it to another level in presidential elections, I have never seen in my life time;
    straying from his own and party platfom 30 days beofre the ellection.

    October 10, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. MCFx

    Once again CNN shows it's journalistic prowess by doing a story on an issue probably 27th on the list of things Americans are concerned about this election. "Look over hear no attention to those poll numbers or the hearing on Libya today behind the curtain....LOOK! Over here! Romney! He's a bad guy!" Shame on you CNN.

    October 10, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. Yem

    A leader to be, should state his position like for women right or not. He/she cannot change position with changing political wind. We should feel comfortable knowing the core value of the leader. How can u trust a flip flopper. Mitt is a flip flopper. Watch out.

    October 10, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. tuckerpeterson

    Why are people surprised at any comment that Mitt makes then changes? It was plainly stated that he is an Etch-A-Sketch and will say whatever he needs to to win.

    October 10, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Paul

    Romney was pro-choice when running for governor in Mass. He was pro-life when running in the primary. He is now saying there is no abortion legislation in his agenda. He is against the 47% that are lazy and rely on gov't handouts for everything. Now he is for 100% of the people. Mitt "which way is the wind blowing today" Romney is NOT someone I can vote for.

    October 10, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Margarita14u

    S.B. Stein this is an important issue because it's an economic issue for women....if a women makes a mistake one time...and let's remember that not getting pregnant ultimately is all her responsibility...she messes up her prospects for a good job, to make a living wage, to go to college, to further her career....she is much more likely to live a life in poverty and scrape by...that is why it is such an important issue for women and it IRKS me when men come on here and say that it is not an important issue...maybe not to you because you would never be put in the position..but if one group of people losses their rights in this country all those who feel safe and secure because you are not in that group better pay attentioin because, guess could be next!

    October 10, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Presidents have no bussiness talking about abortions, I marched in the 80's and I hope these young women get it it is your choice not the churches are the government if you think for your self how selfish let your daughter and your grand daughter have a choice protect thier rights,

    October 10, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. clarke

    Does Medicaid pay for abortions?

    October 10, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Carol

    The issue here is Romney knows as much as I do as what is going on in the government that he wants to be President over. He didn't even know that President Obama had already recinded what he said he would do concerning overseas abortion. He espouses all his flower promises to people who know as little as he does, and he makes it sound like the best thing since cornflakes. The man is not presidential material.

    October 10, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. The Loon

    if any one actually believe Romney will overturn Roe v. Wade all you're doing is scaring yourself into voting for Obama...Romney doesn't care about anything other than national security and the economy, those will be the issues he governs on...unlike Obama he won't lose focus on nonsense social issues which have no place in government...but social issues are the only winning issues liberals have and they must fight like hell to keep them as part of the discussion

    October 10, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. 6packmuscle

    I don't agree with elective abortions being funded, but life threatening pregnancies to the mother or the mother is a rape victim, those are without question appropriate cases of fed funded abortion. If you are so inclined to throw your religion into someone elses face. I recommend you start donating money to rape victims who are pregnant to support the children you want them to have.

    October 10, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Guest

    Benghazi gate hearings start today. Not a word from the state-run media.

    October 10, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Malory Archer


    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.


    Tax dollars don't and haven't funded abortions since the Carter Administration.

    October 10, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. Will

    Seriously, no one is buying Romney as a pro choice option....he is in bed with the fundies and likes it very much. All this is just trying to swing to the middle to much for his "word".

    October 10, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. PeterD

    Unlike Obama Romney is True Story Teller. Obama Can't Even Speak in Debate.

    October 10, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. Amy

    Romney is a CEO, a salesman. He will sell you whatever you want to hear in order to get the white house, he doesn't have any conviction; instead he has only the ambition to become president.
    If he is interviewing on CNN he will say he doesn't have a platform on abortion next he will move to the fox studios and he will say he will stop funding abortion. On the debate he said he won't raise taxes on anybody instead he will reduce taxes and he will raise the defense budget, how is he going to pay for all these cuts? Cutting PBS funding, no more big bird he said, the PBS funding is almost 0000000000.1 % of our budget, wow great analysis Mitt, what a great leader we have in front of us!
    In a way he is similar to Florida's governor Rick Scott, worst governor in the history of Florida (the insurance lobbyist that wanted to become governor) These two have something in common: they are pathetic, they don't care about anybody but themselves and they are playing to become politicians just to have power and get some fan, they don't have any conviction at all!

    October 10, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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