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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    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.


    There is a huge difference between the sacredness of an innocent life and the civil punishment for a heinous crime. My personal religious believes cause me to be extremely torn on the death penalty, but I find it very repulsive that you would compare the two situations. They are in no way comparable.

    October 10, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. Suni

    Romney – 2012. CNN is trying to some how make Romney look bad now that Obama is sliding in numbers!! CNN we know your intentions. My vote goes to Romney – 2012. Please vote for real change.. ROMNEY, ROMNEY, ROMNEY..
    Go away OBAMA.

    October 10, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Romney=Bush Era Part II

    Mike in MN wrote:

    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.
    Amen! Very true! Excellent points!

    October 10, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. SafeJourney

    Repubs, if you Believe Anything Mitt says, watch out, he will change his positions tomorrow. Soooooo do you Really think you are voting for someone with Your views

    October 10, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. ryan

    Follow Romeny's abortion views going back to 1994 and I guarentee your head will spin. Who really knows where he stands.

    October 10, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Trying to Get you to Think about it, not feel your way through it....

    How can you be pro life and pro the death penalty? Why don't you people who use your personal faith to run everyone's life be realistic about governing? Why don't you read the constitution and articles of the document about states having too much power? You suppossed to be a fundamentalist on the constitution, learn what it says and don't use it to leave out people not like you. This is USA not America Incorporated.

    October 10, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Vince

    The ever changing positions of Mitt show what a phoney he really is. This guy will say ANYTHING to get elected. I'm sure not crazy about Obama but Mitt and Paul are not trustworthy and would be vey dangerous if elected.
    BTW Obama: how about you act like a president at the next debate!

    October 10, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. yogi

    You cannot fight lies. Dumbness can only be replaced with intelligence, so we probably have to wait until the republican party as we know it, will slowly fade away. It is very painful to watch it all though....

    October 10, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. carlos

    The Republicans are running on shady policies so when their true in tensions are realize the public can't say that they broke their promise. This wanna be president is having a big fight with in himself, these policies that he's talking about are the republican ticket policies not his own so when he says something that he really believe in it irks the republicans and makes him look like he's flip flopping. Question is in a real world event like war , if things don't go our way is he going to stay the course or cut and run? So far it looks like he would cut and run when the going gets tough.

    October 10, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Mark

    @Stephanie – "Obama so far has not done anything but get us further into debt."
    Look at what has caused the debt during the Obama administration. It hasn't been new spending it's putting two unfunded wars on the books(which the previous administration didn't by passing supplemental spending bills to pay for them), Medicare Part D(also passed with Republican control of all 3 branches of government, but never a plan to pay for it) and The Great Recession. What would you have had him do? Defund the wars? How would that have gone over with those on the right? Not to mention the negative impact on those countries. Do away with Medicare Part D? How do you propose 'finding' the nearly $500 billion in lost tax receipts from the recession? Cut spending? And what do you think happens to an economy that is 75% driven by spending when the consumer closes its wallet and then the federal government closes theirs? Would you have preferred another Great Depression?

    October 10, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. Planetalker

    I am surprised to hear that the abortion issue is still relevant.
    Givin the fact that Gov. Romney is a bishop in a church that does not believe in the Holy Trinity. (Joseph Smith Jr. June14, 1844) Believes that God lives near the planet Kolob, and that there is a council of gods. He also believes that by living his life according to the "Pearl of great price" he and Ann will have a seat at the council of gods, and that he and Ann will have their own planet to rule over as gods.

    October 10, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Mitt couldnt run a elementry school in South Dakota.

    October 10, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. Kellee

    I will listen to a man's opinion about abortions as soon as a man can get pregnant and make the decision to have one.

    October 10, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. mommytwice

    FLIP FLOP...Mit flips, he flops. The man has no position on anything. NOTHING. He just says whatever he needs to say to the audience he's speaking to at the moment. He has no views, no position, no actual opinions. It's trying to nail jello to a wall...he cannot be pinned down. Why would anyone vote for this mess of a candidate???

    October 10, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Suni

    Democrats at it again!! Numbers sliding for their guy so they are all out in force. Do you guys really know to read? or just
    flap mouth exactly like your leader does?? Get him to learn to debate first on substance and issues of major importance and not divert attention away from his failed debate skills. he will fail again in 2 more debates – keep watching.
    Romney – 2012 has my vote.

    October 10, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. Dan

    One thing is certain.

    If Romney becomes President...
    Either he will disappoint conservatives because of his positions prior to September
    Or he will disappoint moderates because of the promises he made starting during the debates.

    Bottom line, you can't stake out two different positions on issue after issue and expect not to have major problems leading.

    October 10, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  17. ray

    i keep saying everyday this man romney , paul ryan and ann romney are all pathological liars, racists , hypocrites and flip floppers. the sad thing about this is that america preches its values around the world and it does the opposite here in america, what a shame.the white people on the right has no integrity, dignity or no morals , especially the right wingers who will vote against evrything they value for all there lives but will go against it youst to get the african president out the white house.. what a sad day in america.

    October 10, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. Ec

    Romney can't be trusted...his view have changed so dramatically, he has to be lying to someone. He was once pro-choice, not so long ago, when he first ran for governor.

    October 10, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Concerned

    Someone above stated that we shouldn't be focusing on abortion, but focus on jobs. Seriously?? What a sick and twisted comment. This demonstrates how low humanity has gone. Abortion is NOT one issue among many. It is the ONLY issue. Any society that condones the killing of innocent children is headed for disaster.

    October 10, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. coloradom

    Kellee – then this should be a non-issue for you. Since Obama and Romney are both men, both can't get pregnant, and both have an opinion about abortion, I guess you're going to vote strictly based on other issues.

    October 10, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. norhetoric

    @GOP LIAR, LIAR – He used to support it until he got elected gov. So, how do those pro-choice voters feel about supporting a candidate that abandoned them after the election? How would you GOPee-ers feel if the worst happens and he gets elected and then he abandons at least half of what he's saying now because it's impossible? When he finds out what's really going on and sees why some things are the way they are? Runny's mouth and his record are at terrible odds. The man is LYING. He is a Liar. A Pathological Liar for a pathological party. There's your reset campaign slogan.

    October 10, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Obama Mama

    Romney does not believe in using govenment tax dollars for abortions in other countries but he will use the biggest earmark (tax dollars) in the history of America (600 million) for the Olympics. And then take all the credit. The tax payers paid for it Mitt.

    October 10, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. Ordnry1

    I watched last night's Front Lines on Obama and Romney. I learned that Romney was initially an Independent, then he became Liberal before he switched to Republican side. He was also pro-choice at one time. Is he still pro-choice? I understand that people's ideology and belief system could change over time but if you change so frequently, it's hard to know what you actually stand for, especially as the President of the United States.

    October 10, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Suni

    CNN trying again to somehow change the polls that is showing Obama sliding in numbers. Funny! Cant debate..
    what a lousy president – worst ever!

    October 10, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. larrychester

    Really a non-story here. Of course he wouldn't use fed tax dollars to pay for abortions in other countries. Why is that news? Kinda sounds like the DNC put out a press release and asked CNN to run it as a news story.

    October 10, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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