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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    Obama campaign has one strategy. DO everything to steer the conversation away from Obama's accomplishemnt from the last 4 years.

    October 10, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. lepke

    There are many people who cannot or afford birth control and abortion, but would use it if it is available. Federal support of planned parenthood clinics which provide care is important to prevent or abort unwanted pregnancies. Babies, expectant mothers will end up being murdered or die because of improperly performed abortions. Does not matter what Mr. Romney thinks as a private person. He needs to be able to see beyond his believes. Perhaps if he considers it as an investment. Society does not have to pay; welfare, healthcare, foster care, prison facilities stemmed from the problem of unwanted pregnancies.

    October 10, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Brian Hartman


    Romney never said he could determine when a fetus feels pain. What he said was that he would want abortions banned at the point when the fetus *could* feel pain. He's not saying he'd be the one making that determination.

    October 10, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. Melody

    We already pay for 47% of Americans that do not pay taxes, heck why shouldn't we pay for women to kill their children?...What the heck....

    October 10, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Brian Hartman

    Hang on a second.

    How is the Democrats criticizing Romney for something he said even news?

    October 10, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. Name. RU

    Iam tired on hearing about abortion for this election, its a dead issue, if even though he's pro life he won't repeal roe vs wade or make any changes because its a destraction he doesn't need. He has more pressing issues he must resolve like unemployment, job creation, stabilize the economy and defense. The last president obviousely couldn't do it, so we need a change.

    October 10, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. J Schwager

    Someone answer this: why was Mitt Romney a one term governor and isn't a plank in the National Republican Party a statement that says they will abolish Roe v Wade and abortions? A very stron g statement that was accepted at the convention. Where was Mitt when this was voted on?

    October 10, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. hypatia

    Flip flop flip flop. What a tool

    October 10, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Mei

    Life issues are SO important to the foundation of any society and Obama has failed to the extreme on this level. I don't like a lot of fiscal decisions by Republicans but I will vote for a presidential candidate who supports life and does not allow funds to go towards abortion in this country or in other nations (where we really have no business giving money for that–which often goes against religious and cultural backgrounds). Obama is EXTREME in his abortion positions and all his actions have proven this, from using taxpayer money to pay for other people's abortions in Obamacare, to providing abortion funds to orgs outside the US, to going against parental notification when a minor has an abortion, to supporting partial birth abortion–which other political candidates never do, to voting against saving the life of a baby accidentally born in a botched abortion (and this does happen!)–so instead he rules that babies should be thrown into the trash or left on the table to die. No, I will not vote for Obama for his lack of morality.

    October 10, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Sy2502

    What these right wingers don't understand is that paying a few hundred dollars for an abortion is actually infinitely cheaper than having a teenage mother drop out of school and be on public money, which will have to feed, clothe, and school that kid, who will probably end up in jail himself thanks to being raised in a dysfunctional situation, and will probably himself be on government support, and then he'll himself go get some other teenage pregnant, and on and on goes the cycle. I'd rather pay for the abortion, myself.

    October 10, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Mei

    Life issues are SO important to the foundation of any society and Obama has failed to the extreme on this level. I don't like a lot of fiscal decisions by Republicans but I will vote for a presidential candidate who supports life and does not allow funds to go towards abortion in this country or in other nations

    October 10, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Nobama

    I don't believe in killing babies so I am all for it.

    October 10, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. rs

    The party of Mr. Akin CANNOT be trusted on issues pertaining to women, or human reproduction- it IS that simple.

    October 10, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Vijay

    I don't think Americans are stupid enough to elect a candidate who speaks one thing and next half/hour his spoke person says different on, contradicting his comments. This has become routine for Mr. Flip Flopper. I don't know why his poll numbers increased. He did well in the debate, but all he spoke about his lies. If we ask which tax deductions he would exempt, he nor his campaign staff doesn't know to answer it. They all speak one word that Mr. Flip Flopper will create 12 million jobs in his first term. Without him also, we will create 12 million jobs as well. CBO Once said at the end of 2nd term of Obama, unemployment would be less than 6 %. Flip Flopper will continue his flip flopping till he will be crushed by Obama and his team. He is worst than John Kerry (2004).

    October 10, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Thomas

    @Sita Adams
    While working at an abortion clinic one thing I learned is that there are women who use abortion as birth control. Also, that we as tax payers pay for it and the bill isn't cheap. It's about $800-$1200. Thus, I wouldn't disagree with Romney on the fact that yeah, we should cut back on aid for abortions, perhaps limit it to one per person. I don't understand things can happen, however, people must understand that this is also a business and that they do have quotas to meet.


    People must understand that this is also a business and that they do have quotas to meet ?

    Then you could also say the same thing about wars , military spending .

    Prove to me that abortion clinics have paid recruiters to fill there quotas .

    What always amazes me , you make it sound like there are these evil people who find pleasure in having an abortion .
    Why don't you talk about the real cause , Lack of Education and lack of practice of safe sex , condoms , Pills !

    October 10, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. knjimd

    Let me see "a tree has a heart" but a 3 – 6 month unborn fetus is "blob of flesh" Has our collective morals really gotten this low?

    October 10, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. NYHarry

    OMG! "Playing Politics" with abortion! Get real! Abortion is nothing BUT a political issues. Most Americans don't care what others think about abortion. It becomes an issue only during a close election.What difference does it make if a President is pro-choice or pro-life, if he takes economy and our country down the tubes?

    Regarding Romney changing his positions and flip flopping, I ask all of you – have you ever changed position on a subject in last 30 years of your life? I certainly have – on many subjects. Being able to learn from life experiences and change your positions is a positive sign of intellectual growth. If you are not capable of adapting and being able to change your positions, you should not run for public office. The reason Washington is such a mess is because we have ideologues who refuse to bend and adapt to changing economic or social conditions.

    October 10, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Patrick

    I'm not the President, but I'll say anything to get there . . . . . .

    October 10, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |

    Democrats are all for Partial birth abortions (Kathleen Sebelius).

    They are in fact fro the murder of innocent little babies.

    October 10, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. matt

    "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL"...creation starts when???? When the egg meets a sperm. Period. Everything POSTPONING or DEFERRING the definition to a later time is straight up self proclaimed and human invented interpretations for convenience. No one...except the church...seems to even CARE about people CONTROLLING themselves and THINKING before making babies. It's the same Liberal diatribe...."everyone has rights, no one has responsibilities"'s always someone else' fault or someone else' responsibility or someone else' burden. For once in your life accept responsibility for YOUR actions. If you are a guy and you get some girl pregnant...MAN UP and be a dad. Creation starts when egg and sperm unite....rights of individuals start upon creation.

    October 10, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Jack in Florida

    Romney/Ryan...can't stop lyin. How can you vote for this lying sack, when his positions change so much. He is the WORST, pandering politican I have ever witnessed. A man with NO integrity....a COMPLETE fraud!!!!

    October 10, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. Ms. Jordan

    It truly is sad when a woman uses abortion as birth control. I believe in a womans rite to choose of course. But dont choose abortion because its easier than telling that man to use a condom.

    October 10, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. john

    you can oppose abortion on a personal level.. I do.
    But, the government should not tell Woman what to do...
    I believe that this decision is between a woman and God..
    Romney has no business telling woman what to do..At least that's what he said in 1994.....

    October 10, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. us_1776

    Progressives have done more to reduce the number of abortions than ALL of the actions of ALL of the rightwingers EVER.

    Progressives helped to ensure women's health care, sex education, contraceptive services and counseling by groups like Planned Parenthood that resulted in the number of abortions last year actually being reduced by over 1 million.


    October 10, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. Dnar

    It is a womans body... It is HER decision. Please keep that in mind when you vote. That dude can't be trusted.

    October 10, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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