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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Romney and Bain made 49.5 million from their investment in Stericycle, a medical waste company that handled aborted fetuses from abortion mills. He is listed in SEC documents filed by Bain as being the the person from Bain in control of this Bain investment, with voting and control power.

    So much for this guy's integrity and honesty. Mitt Romney is against abortion and pro life depending on what's in it for him. With Bain, that went out the window, as there was a lot of money to be made. Now that he's running for President, he all Mr. Pro Life and anti abortion. Mitt is all about himself and money. If youj need to know more, just google it, it's all there for all to see. Phony as phony is.

    October 10, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Obama Mama

    Again only 3% of what planned parenthood does is abortions. Abortions are "not" federally funded.

    October 10, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Stephanie

    I think it is ridiculous that we are focusing on abortion when we need to decide which candidate is going to bring America more jobs. And as far as these "yes no yes no Romney" comments go, lets look at the president with gay marriage...both of these man are out to win the presidential election so they are going to sway their voters the best to their ability. I am focusing on which is going to do a better job, and Obama so far has not done anything but get us further into debt.

    October 10, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Mom

    All mothers have the right to PROTECT their own children. Blaming politicians for giving up that right seems to be a sophisticated way to disguuise that we, with our own free will, have chosen to kill.

    October 10, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. TDJ

    I don't see what the problem is. Only those for whom the value of human life in its most defenseless state is nor worth defending are the ones carping. Anyone who dares to defend the life of gestating humans are fair game in this culture. Why is this news?

    October 10, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. alex

    Do people not understand that appointing supreme court justices isn't a legislative plan for abortion?
    The comments in this thread smack of desperation and an example of the pathetic state of the presidents reelection campaign, where they can't even take advantage of a comment correctly.
    He hasn't even changed his position from earlier in the election cycle because it's barely come up as an issue, if he had said "Im for abortion! Abortion for everyone!!" i could see the issue, but he basicly said he isn't going to push for any new legislation that changes the way abortion is dealt with.
    I don't even understand the issue, unless you are either
    A. Hoping he was going to attempt to outlaw abortion, something presidential candidate would run on.
    B. Hoping he was going to announce he liked partial birth abortions, which would have been idiotic to assume.

    October 10, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. rick1948

    Romney has an agenda that he is tap-dancing around. Because there is no "current legislation" that is on his list doesn't mean he hasn't made deals to create new legislation if he gets elected. This guy cannot be trusted. Period.

    October 10, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. S Wilson

    Really? Who and how many people are getting abortions today that this makes any sense to be a REAL issue, ever thought of birth control instead of killing babies?!

    October 10, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. frediee

    Here we go again, the liberals trying to deflect the attention to the real issues in this country. I know many people that can't have children for various reasons and would love to adopt a baby. REAL rape pregnancies are rare to begin with and then we would have to get into the dilemma of what exactly is considered rape (girl gets wasted at party and the next day realizes she is pregnant). Lets focus on the real issues here.....

    October 10, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Marc in Texas

    Etch a Sketch. Who is the real Mitt Romney? I lean towrds the guy who will sorely disappoint the right wing fringe and will likely rip the GOP apart for good in his one term, if elected.

    October 10, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Ryan

    Roe v. Wade is the law of land. But where is it stated that tax dollars be spent to fund abortions in other countries. Let them fund it themselves. I'm ok with that.

    October 10, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Dnick47

    This guy changes direction more often then the wind.

    October 10, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. MaryM

    Filp flop, Yes no, I am for it, no wait, I am against it, I stand by what I said when I said it, but not today, maybe tomorrow.
    What the hell is Mitt saying? No one knows , not even the repubs voting for him.

    October 10, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. vancooler360

    All of you followers of Romney, be fore warned. If he wins and gets into office, our country will sink into a deeper recession and everything that he promised during the election HE WILL forget and YOU WILL BE THE ONES SUFFERING FROM HIS DECISIONS AND POLICIES. ITS KIND OF FUNNY HOW PRESIDENT GW BUSH AND CHENEY HAVE BEEN ABSENT FROM THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND OR THE ELECTION NEWS????? I wonder why they are hiding? President Carter, Clinton are supporting President OBAMA, but were are GW and Dick??????

    October 10, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. Marc in Texas

    The debate about abortion is pretty simple – if it is legal, the govermnet should should help make sure that the option is available and safe. There is no one forcing American womne to have an abortion – but there are those who would force them to bear the child of a rapist, or an uncle, or one that will be stillborn no matter what medical science can do. What cruelty.

    October 10, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Mitt said he wants to go to war with those muslim countries to stop terrorist we can not afford another war ,Bush had a 5 trillion surplus then blew that added another 10 trillion to are debt We have to let these countries grow some balls and fight thier own wars,If you vote for Mitt you are adding trillions more to are debt ,Women who vote for him I don't know what is wrong with them abortion is no one 's bussiness but yours not the churches are the government,Mitt is the best snake oil salesmans please dont vote for him he will destroy America ,Stocks are up jobs are starting again we can not go back to the Bush years vote those Republican Senators out they are Bushes bad boys we got the tumor Bush but we left the cancer the Republicans

    October 10, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. CamZ

    Read the article. He has no planned legislation. LEGISLATION. He's not flip-flopping on anything. He still believes abortion is wrong. There are more important things to worry about right now than abortion-related legislation.

    October 10, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Bob

    Does anyone really think this guy is any smarter than Palin?

    October 10, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Karen

    Yesterday Romney wanted to reverse the Supreme Court decision and not allow any abortion. Today, heard him on TV and he changed his mind again just like he does on everything. How can any person trust someone like that to be President of the United States. He is playing a dangerous game playing politics with serious issues. Can't believe a thing he says.

    October 10, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. vancooler360

    Why do people have such short memories!!!!! (GW BUSH/CHENEY) and by the way were have they both been?? Presidents Clinton/Carter have supported President OBAMA, but you don't see any of the BUSH'S on the trail nor do you see Cheney???????? Why are they absent??????? OH YEAH THEY CREATED THIS MESS WE ARE IN AND THE REPUBLICANS DON'T WANT THEM AROUND!!!!

    October 10, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Mike in MN

    Oh please, most conservatives aren't pro life, their pro birth. You can't claim to be pro life and then stop caring as soon as the child is born, and you can't be pro life and then support the death penalty. Either all life is sacred or no life is sacred.

    October 10, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Zach

    People, this is very simple case of a man stating his personal beliefs and at the same time stating that he will not necisarily govern along the lines of his own personal beliefs in every single case. That is called LEADERSHIP!. The ability to distinguish between your own personal beliefs and the will/betterment of the people that he governs. Also, remember who writes laws according to the constitution. It is NOT the president. Well, i guess that would have to exclude the current administration, since he has expanded the executive power of the office by 500% in four years. Either way, i small government president will put the powers of wirting legislation back into the hands of the representatives. If the send a bill to him that he feels will be the best for the people, he will sign it. That is how it is supposed to work. there is s diference between that and "flip-floping".

    that is my civics lesson for the day. please feel free to ask me if you have any further questions.

    October 10, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Jim970

    Romney is right. The nation is so divided on abortion, there needs to be some thoughtful discussion (no yelling or name calling) amongst all, before we even consider going into any legislation. Who knows when or if that discussion can occur but it certainly hasn't happened yet and the nation is not ready for laws concerning abortion.

    October 10, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. freedom

    And by the way – the term pro-life needs to go away. Everyone is pro-life! Let's stop labeling and politicizing this very critical, difficult, and personal issue. And women – go find a doctor to help you with this – the government has no place in this area of your life!

    October 10, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. Buzz1975

    Good grief. Here we go again. Romney saying what he thinks people want to hear in the moment, completing opposite of what he said in the Repub debates and has campaigned on, in other words....;lying. *sigh*

    October 10, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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