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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. gmenfan54

    Romney would love to overturn "Roe vs. Wade".

    October 10, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. SPQR

    Mitt Romney is a charlatan.

    Whatever is best for him always.

    And if that doesn't suit him anymore,

    then Willard just changes his position to what will suit him best then.

    It is just a game for Willard.

    Whatever it takes to get Willard what he wants.

    October 10, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. yogi

    Another day, another flip of Mr. Flop.
    Another day, another flop of Mr. Flip.
    Lies and distortions from he automaton.
    The Frontline program last night did show a little light on Romney as ruthless man, but the show was way too teflon to have an impact.
    It is beyond me that people don't see through that mask with a grin and realize he is phony, cold, calculated, and he will destroy the middle class.
    Obama 2012.

    October 10, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. Robert

    Mike in MN is proof that freedom of speech still exists in America because they allow anyone to give his opinion, no matter how ignorant.

    October 10, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. Obama Mama

    @Loon- It is the republican platform not to give rape victims and incest victims abortions. Just because Romney becomes president it does not mean he will go against his party. Romney is a flip flopper. If it seems Obama was stunned at the debates, it is because he has flip-flopped so many times during the debate Obama was in shock. None of Romney's policies have anything to back them up in numbers or fact based. You can say whatever you want like Romney does, in private it is proven how he feels i.e. 47%, he just cares so much more now that he was in a debate. NOT.

    October 10, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. Roscoe Chait

    Hey Bob, Palin is looking pretty good right now, huh? Romney is the most corrupt and dishonest politician I've ever seen on any platform at any time.

    October 10, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Rasus

    Read Psalm 139 God created babies Even though we may not understand this we have no right to kill God's creation.
    Anyone want to tell me to leave God out of this! Can't do it no matter what anyone says, God will still have the final say.

    October 10, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. JustAO

    People are against voting for Obama based on fear-mongering, no evidence of claims, bigotry & ignorance; yet Romney has been taped numerous times and voted for legislation changing positions on EVERYTHING during campaigning for Senator, Governor, and President.

    How on earth can people be comfortable with a guy being our President who changes his position as rapidly as he feels the polls aren't moving in his direction? Atleast Bush was consistent in his stupidity. Romney will truly be a dangerous puppet and vote for any legislation to the highest bidder if he become President.

    October 10, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. 6packmuscle

    obama's claims were naive, Romney is also being naive, but hes also changing his message in the last hours of the election from points hes campaigned on.

    I would give Romney more of a chance if he were to simply provide more detail. He bashes everything Obama, says he will fix it with budget cuts that will only affect the rich and some how lower the deficit. Is he going to make purple elephants appear as well?

    October 10, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. rs

    Funny how the Republicans go on and on about being "pro-life" and the party to protect fetuses. Great, they care about "people" right up until they are born. After that- they cut funds for education; they cut Medicaid; they want to cut food subsidies for the poor; they want to go after the elderly as well by cutting their Medicare, and wanting to "privatize" Social Security; they want to undo the ACA even though that will give better medical coverage to Americans and cost less.

    Oh, yeah. The party of life- just not for real people.

    October 10, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    What? Did the handlers let RMoney open his mouth again? Unfortunately for them, we kind of expect him to keep opening his mouth. Good luck handlers!

    October 10, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Obama Mama

    @fredilee who brought up abortion? Romney.

    October 10, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Concerned13

    Quite frankly, I do not care what Romney's stance on abortion is. Its a very small issue in the grand scheme of things. People act like millions of women are getting raped everyday in the US and that Romney is trying to force them to have the baby...this could not be further from the truth. Romney does not want GOVERNMENT funds to go towards abortion. Regardless of his position on abortion, I'm voting for him because I believe he will be a president then our current one with regards to the economy and national debt. These are the most important issues facing america. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.

    October 10, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Jerry

    Ho Hum another cnn non story trying to make Romney look bad

    October 10, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Paul

    I've come to expect that anything that comes form Mitt's mouth has no real meaning. Almost everything said is soon contradicted by either Mitt or his campaign. When I look at Mr. Romany, all I see any more is a huge question mark. He is truly going to run to the finish without us really having a clue about what he intends to do.

    October 10, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Ted

    Snikenepiks, you say "these types of issues have no place in political arenas." Surely one of government's essential roles is the protection of human life. Many of the pro-abortion commentators here would seem to be in favour of the situation which we have in Canada (to our shame): There is no law against abortion at any time. A child, as far as criminal law is concerned, can be killed as long as it has one foot in the womb.

    October 10, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Vote No MN

    Yet another example of how Romney will say anything you want to hear to get your vote. I can't believe that half of our country actually wants to vote for this guy.

    Romeny has the attack ad on Obama which shows Obama saying the same things back in 2008 that he is saying now in 2012. At least Obama has been consistent with his viewpoints and messages. Romney/Ryan – the ulitmate lying and flip-flopping tandum.

    October 10, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Thetruthhurst

    The Federal Government and our tax dollars are not your personal account to withdraw from any time you make a bad decision in life. While I am Pro-Choice, I am also against the Fed's paying for someone's choice.

    You wanna have an abortion! so be it, but your not gonna use my tax dollars to do it.
    Take some responsibility!
    This isn't Anti-Women, It's Anti-stupidity, and anti-wasting of tax payer money for personal problems.

    You people need education, and responsibility, but sadly our country moves further and further away from that,
    and heads head-on into entitilments. Welcome to Rome! the year is 189 AD!

    October 10, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. One Last Debate

    There should be one final debate. Three participants: MA Liberal Mitt, "Severe Conservative" Mitt and "Etch A Sketch" Moderate Mitt. That would be entertaining.

    October 10, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Obama Mama

    @Mike in MN. How about wars, republicans have started 95% of the wars, I call it late, late term abortion.

    October 10, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. architect1812

    Both of these candidates are hypocritical statists and they keep playing on people's emotions, hoping the electorate will continue to be too stupid to notice. I mean really, does anyone agree that either of these men deserve to be the President? WIth all the fallse accusations they both throw out there it would be enough to throw the rest of us in prison for slander and libel. This Obama rep, Lis Smith, says the Romney campaign is "playing politics" about abortion and then goes on to say that "women simply can't trust Romney". looks an awful lot like you just played a little politics with it yourself, Ms. Smith.
    AND-has anyone else noticed that when one of these two buffoons makes a gaffe, the other responds by calling it "shocking"? The only thing that remains shocking to me is that the general public hasn't woken up and kicked both of these corrupt, self interested parties out of the country.

    October 10, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |

    No one in this government nor church should have the right to impose any law that makes a cookie cutter decision on everyone's health..abortion is a health issue and Romney is not a medical professional..nor does he has the right to speak for any WOMEN on what she should do with her body..

    and for all who are self righteous and think its your place to pass judgement on this issue by standing along the streets with dead babies on the sign's KNOW that you are WRONG TO JUDGE It is NOT YOUR PLACE TO PUT JUDGEMENT ON ANOTHER MAN..

    October 10, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Alan

    Come on CNN don't be so predictable and blow up every Chicago thug operation release. Where is your articles on Obama's controversional statements? Oh, right, you consider his statements the gospel.

    October 10, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Name kc

    Romney is a dangerous rich narrow minded man that wants to be King. He has flip flopped so much other Republicans are confused. Suddenly he is Hispanic and likes the 47%. Next week he is going to admit that he had gay sex in France to get the gay vote.

    October 10, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Obama Mama

    @s wilson- 78% of abortions are women whom profess to have an afilliation with a religion. Most religions will not allow women to take birth control. I think we need to have people on the pill if they decide they do not wish to have children, but women are told it is wrong and we have a higher %age of women of religion having abortions than women of non denominations.

    October 10, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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