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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. jean2009

    Robme is wrong about so many things it is hard to keep up....
    First where is his tax returns did he take the 2009 amnesty for those hiding assets in untaxed Swiss bank accounts?
    For starters what kind of Twisted Twit likes to fire people? What kind of heartless screwball hires Chinese slave labor? What type of morally bankrupt person has employees build a stage so he can fire them, and close the plant they work in? Who with a heart and an ounce of brains chains the family pet to the roof of a vehicle to take on vacation? Why would a reasonable person who has a draft deferment be so lacking in compassion that he protests FOR others to go die in a war he won't fight? Who bullies a class mate and cuts his hair? Does he really think it right that Beallsville, Ohio miners had to “mandatorily” attend one of his campaign speeches without pay, or lose their jobs?

    Now, he not only wants to fire Big Bird, but also cut great programming like Masterpiece Theater. And wants his war profiteers to keep on pumping out those tanks the military doesn’t want any more of.

    And the GOP is on full attack against women.
    Obama-Biden 2012!

    October 10, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Venado Chato

    Willard steps in half revolutions, every step is 180 degrees from the previous!. Does that make him bi-nary, bi-polar or an unproductive oscillation?

    October 10, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. Name

    I can't believe these people who are going to vote for Romney. Bush Jr. told the lies his campaign an when he became president he pretty much told the American public they meant nothing. As soon as Romneys elected, we're going to war on behalf of Israel and another trillion in debt.. so all issues regarding abortion, Medicare etc.. will be on the back burner. And for those accusing Obama for our debt, unemployment etc.. get real, use your brain and logic if you have any.. Bush Jr. ruined this country incredibly with an 8 ur war, a banking system which went uncontrolled, war spending etc.. do you REALLY think the next president can fix anything in 4-8 years?? It's much easier to blame him isn't it because you don't like him because you're narrow-minded and Republican. You people make me laugh, you never will learn.. so controlled by media and empty words with no substance.. like grazing cows just "mooing" along.

    October 10, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. RBSG

    Romney et al are not "pro life". They are pro birth. They want to ban abortion, but the minute the fetus is outside the womb and becomes a full-fledged person, it is on its own in terms of access to health care and education. Whatever social rights it will have are determined by its sex, skin color and sexual orientation. But keep fooling yourselves into thinking you're "pro-life" you illicit cons.

    October 10, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. rob

    How do you know when a Republican is lying? His/her lips are moving.

    October 10, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. skarphace

    In Oregon, we say "if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes."

    Of Romney, it could be said "if you don't like his position, wait 10 minutes."

    October 10, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. Inde Di

    As an independent I was watching both candidates closely. While Romney has extensive expereince in Bussiness, he just seems to fall falt on the other issues (equal pay for women, abortion rights, immigration law, education, student loans, and the ever damning taxes). My conceren with him is given he does not seem to stand by his convictions and beleives consistently like Senator MCain did, who never waivered, not knowing what whether what he will change his mind on once he gets into the oval office a ral concern for me. One debate performance does not the man maketh and the president royally screwed up. I do however trust the president more as he stands for something consistently.

    October 10, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Name

    For me its not about abortion i dont think anyone not even the goverment has the right to tell me what i can and cant do with my own body.

    October 10, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Pete

    Romney, is yes against abortion even in the event a woman's life is in danger because of the pregnancy.That was his stance before with an agreement from Ryan,but it changed as usual because it was considered too extreme by his presidencial campaign advisors and it made more sense to pander to the women voter in which he wasn't cooperating policy wise!!Check his history especially Mormon wise as bishop and how he threatened pregnant single Mormon woman with excommunication because of their pregnancies,he said single parents are irresponsible,incompetent at parenting and only couples in the Mormon church should raise children,you want that extremism for your president policing the nation taking away your kids if your single,I wouldn't put it past him he's that extreme!!!He's a pathelogical liar,even some of own republican collegues don't trust him,so why should we!!

    October 10, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Brian

    Romney wouldn't change the abortion laws. His Supreme Court nominees would do the heavy lifting for him.

    October 10, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Obama Mama

    Read the Hyde Amendment, federal money cannot go to abortions.

    October 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Kellee

    @coloradom I don't vote for a Presidential candidate on just one issue, see I am one of those extinct American who actually read and stay informed on the policies of the current administration and candidates. So to answer your question no I am not staking my vote on one issue and will still vote for a "man" in this presidential race. What I am saying is how can a man who don't know how it feels to have a baby tell you what to do with your body. Having my last child almost cost me my life, and since the republicans don't want you to use contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. Tell me what should me and my husband do to prevent another pregnancy? Stop having sex or become a lesbian? What make me sick about Christian Conservatives is they only care about the fetus until birth so what if their parents don't want them and abused them who cares at least their living until they grow up and commit suicide. I will tell any man even my husband the day you have valid opinion about abortion is the day you starting having babies.

    October 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. B4Cons

    Why would anyone be confused on Romney's stance on Abortion?

    Mitt Romney in 2002: "I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose."

    Mitt Romney in 2007: "Look, I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in 1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I changed my position. And I get tired of people that are holier-than-thou because they've been pro-life longer than I have."

    First Sentence = "Look, I was pro-choice

    Fourth Sentence = "I never said I was pro-choice"

    Reversible Mittens.

    October 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Corey

    The GOP is always talking about freedom and to have government out of our lives. But they want to take women's freedom away and have the government tell women what they can and can't do. Look if you don't believe in abortions based on your religious views then don't have them. PERIOD. But don't force your beliefs on others. How would any of you Christians feel if Sharia law was forced on you? Well that's how non-christians feel when you try to push your religious beliefs on us.

    October 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Ian

    All of this is just smoke and mirrors to me. The big issue is the economy and having a President that can fix our problems without spending like there is no tomorrow.

    Obama is a man with a no limit credit cards. He and his democrats cronies get votes by telling the middle class and poor that they will go after the evil successful people effectively robbing Americans to line the pockets of other Americans.

    That mindset in this country needs to stop. The handouts need to stop. People need to stand up, have some pride and get themselves motivated and workiing without depending on the Government. How about some personal responsibility people instead of sitting on your rear waiting for the Government to give you what they took from another American. It's morally wrong what they are doing, pathetic even to vote for politicians such as this.

    October 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Sara

    Abortions are not a top priority for this country. The economy, job creation and the national debt are.

    ABORTIONS ARE AVOIDABLE!!! If you are that irresponsible that this is your top priority then stop having sex.

    October 10, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. RCM

    GOP backers alway say the election is about the economy but all R & R talk about is social issues that they want to apply to the rest of us.

    October 10, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Monica in Denver

    Sita, how will we pay for all the foster and hungry children if abortions are illegalized? Who will raise them? How many children have you adopted? Why is how another women's decision any of your business when it comes to reproduction?

    You are WRONG! and Romney is a LIAR and WRONG for the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.

    October 10, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    really?? who cares!! Go Mitt

    October 10, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. kim

    wow, this guy just continues to amaze............whatever the public complaint is as to why people don't like him, then he says what they want to hear........he has no policies, he is not central in his politics, he has just now started "leaning" that way in his speeches, because he figured out that the 47% voters weren't going for him, now he acts like he cares. The only thing Mitt Robme wants is the title of the President of the United States. That's it. He doesn't want the real job

    October 10, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. panhandleguy

    That's a typical Romney-style denial of his position. Obviously he will sign any anti-woman legislation the extremist congress hands him, while denying that is part of his personal agenda.

    If Romney wins, do you have a backup plan? Or are you part of the 47% of Americans that Romney holds in contempt because we refuse to take responsibility for your own lives?

    Do you have a plan to somehow provide healthcare for the women in your life? Do you have a plan to provide healthcare for yourself after you are denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition? What is your plan for taking care of your parents? Do you have a plan to provide for your children's education after the Department of Education is eliminated and the financing of our educational system is handed over to the tender mercies of Romney's Wall Street friends? Do you have a plan to cope with the fact that you may not be permitted to vote after this election? What is your plan to become a corporation (recognized as a person). Or will "you people" continue to be a grovelling, contemptible commodity (human beings)? Do you have a plan to provide for your retirement after Social Security is eliminated and your job is shipped to China? What is your plan for persuading your employer to pay you a living wage when the right of the people to combine resources for the greater good is eliminated?

    I know what you are saying: this will not happen.

    Really? So you expected after the election in 2000 that we would be in two wars, with no plan ever to end them or pay for them? You expected the appointment of a Supreme Court that would declare corporations to be people free of any personal responsibility but whose rights supersede the rights of individuals? You knew that after all of the hard work of building a budget surplus that we would be deep in debt not even 3 years later, and that the seeds would have been sown for economic collapse and escalating debt for a decade to come? You expected your financial worth to decline by 40%, even as you are being disparaged for expecting anything else? You expected your college kids to be back in your home after graduating? You expected to have to pay for two tax cuts for the rich? You expected to lose your job to outsourcing? You expected the Recession? You expected that over 90% of all income gains would henceforth accrue to 1% of the population?

    Guess again.

    October 10, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    What ever se says does not matter sence he will change sis position any time he is under pressure eithe by right or left. What is important to him is winning the upcoming election and if he wins, God forbid, we will see real Mitt.

    October 10, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. laskerknight

    Mamma Don't let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Republicans.!!!!!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. Monica in Denver

    Romney will say anything, he's wishy washy like a slippery fish.

    October 10, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. norhetoric

    @Suni- don't get too cocky there s. President Obama was way up in the polls days before the debate. Polls change as much as Romney's views do. Romney is the one that is saying stupid things about abortion. You can't blame everything on Democrats and CNN when your boy is the one saying STUPID things and contradicting himself.

    October 10, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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