October 10th, 2012
04:53 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney clarifies position on abortion

Delaware, Ohio (CNN) – Mitt Romney sought to clarify his position on abortion Wednesday, saying as president he would move "immediately" to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Romney sparked controversy a day earlier when he told the Des Moines Register's editorial board that he was not aware of any abortion legislation that would become part of his presidential agenda.

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Democrats pounced, accusing Romney of moderating his position on the highly-charged issue.

During the primary campaign, Romney maintained he would support efforts to remove funding for Planned Parenthood, a women's health organization that provides abortion services. Several House Republicans have introduced legislation that would strip funding from the group.

On Wednesday, Romney said he would support removing the group's funding through the federal budget, which must be passed by Congress.

"I think I've said time and time again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president," he said. "The actions I'll take immediately is to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget."

In the interview on Tuesday, Romney said 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.

"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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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 (300 Responses)
  1. ertw

    Mitt has lost me he lost me in the first debate. I was all jacked ready to hear both sides then Romney came in and changed his stands on everything, stuff that even happen a week before hand. I cant take anyone serious who is not playing fair. I can take Obama losing but if i was President in that debate. I would have said "Your not taking this seriously and i have more important things to do." then walked off the stage and let him say whatever he wanted.

    October 11, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  2. BPollutin

    This just shows how out-of-touch the republican party is with real world issues. If the Republicans truly had their way, their would be no forests or grassland, slavery would still exist (except it would apply to all races), the world population would be 20 billion and growing, our air would be barely breathable as we burn any and every natural resource big oil companies can find, and the average person would still think the world was at the center of the universe...and only 5,000 years old! Lesser of two evils on this election – Vote Obama!

    October 11, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  3. onepercenter

    Oops. The great con of America by Romney is revealed.

    October 11, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  4. b4bigbang

    "I say save the kid and kill the mother"
    – Robin Williams, "The Bird Cage"

    October 11, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  5. Dee

    the amount of times this guy has "CLARIFIED" his position on issues should tell you voters out there something! WE CANNOT VOTE FOR THIS GUY! even if you don't love Obama. please DO NOT vote for Romney! NO WAY!

    October 11, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  6. kmehltretter3415

    "It is a very critical, serious, and personal issue that should remain between a woman and her family, her doctor and her God"


    How are you not pro-choice? And how is Romney taking away the freedom to have an abortion less government in our lives? I think you got this one backwards

    October 11, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  7. Brian

    Why does Romney have to "clarify" everything he says? Reminds me of Nixon's press conferences. In response to a question he would say "let me make one thing perfectly clear." He would then go off on a tangent about his mother's apple pie and how great the "silent majority" was and completely side-step the question.

    October 11, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  8. flowersunshineandgymsocks

    Romney will win this election because he is an expert salesman and Americans voted for Bush twice. The debt will explode and interest rates will go up as America's debt gets downgraded. Consumer confidence will plummet and the US will send soldiers, money and arms to Syria.. By the end of Romey's first term the debt will be over 20 trillion. Obamacare will be greatly weakened and the US dollar will plummet. Romney will on;ly serve one term because the Americans will finally get "it" and they will vote him out and the US will be damaged severely domestically and internationally for decades. Life expectancy will drop to 70 years of age and education ranking in the worls in Math and Science will drop from 17 to 25.

    October 11, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  9. CNS

    First of all planned parenthood isn't about abortions it also about preventions against unwanted pregnancies. They provide condoms, plan B pills and other great services and especially for low income individuals. Would we want more women getting pregnant and not being able to take care of their children and having these kids not having the proper care and environment to grow up in. You don't have to agree with abortion but planned parenthood is a good thing.

    October 11, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  10. Support

    People need to open their eyes. You want to make your own decisions or have govt do it for you (robot)?

    October 11, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  11. FactsHurtLongTime

    Typical Mitt – morphing to what is the base of the day flavor. He underestimates the silent majority and the "intelligent" moderates out there. He is (as always) his own undoing. See ya in 2016 – for another bout at the prize Mitt! Good luck with that too!

    October 11, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  12. Support

    Pro life is the truth and the way to go.

    You pro choice liers need to take a hard look into yourselves before voting. Ask yourself, what if your parent aborted you? There is always hope. Do the right thing. Vote pro life.

    Life is good. Don't let your integrity slip away.

    October 11, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  13. Open your eyes

    The President has "flip-flopped" his position on the MURDERS of four Americans. America was attacked by terroists and we see debates over abortion on TV. There was never a video. It was a complete lie from the start. I don't know about anyone else, but I do not want to vote for anyone that will lie over and over again. Does he think we are completely stupid? Obviously he does. He is bringing up a minor issue of abortion, accusing his opponent of switching his story, when he has blatantly lied to the American people about a terrorist attack! I don't even understand why we are even debating abortion when the economy is terrible and there is no foreign policy.

    October 11, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  14. mary

    Wait for it......... And now he will re-clarify THAT position.....Just give him 24 hours to get in front of a camera again~!!
    good grief.. You would think he would be dizzy from all that flip flopping..

    October 11, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  15. John L

    Way to slant the article. I'm pretty sure planned parenthood provides more then abortion services. For example they help women with no health insurance get affordable access to breast cancer screenings. This article is a disgusting piece of "journalism".

    October 11, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  16. Anne

    I am more and more frightened by Mitt Romney and a large majority of the GOP. How can anyone who has paid one minute of attention to this campaign consider voting for him? He just lies. He changes his opinion so fast it makes my head spin. I am really beginning to think the world is coming to an end.

    October 11, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  17. bolts

    Just media nonsense that means nothing at this time.

    October 11, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  18. Seriously

    It is getting really old. Just vote for anyone besides Mitt. He's flipped alright,lol

    October 11, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  19. Appalled at america

    Really SafeJourney?? didn't Obama spend the summer flipping his decision on Gay Marriage...didn't obama say he would cut our deficit and get rid of debt? did he flop on those positions. come on

    October 11, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  20. StillSane

    Here is a lolipop. Now stop crying and let Daddy win this election

    October 11, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  21. Veritas

    My daughter was born with a degenerative disease called Hereditary Sensor and Motor Neuropathy–a progressive disease with no cure. She will likely be in a wheel chair soon. She is 23. She cannot get disability either. It doesnt qualify. So guess what.....do you think I really feel like I should have to pay for birth control or abortions for girls AND boys who haven't been taught any self control by their incompetent parents????? Maybe those incompetent parents should foot the bill! And by the way, I have 3 grown daughters who didn't mooch off the rest of you for their birth control (self control) needs nor did they become pregnant. Get a clue! Some of you seem to think Government money comes from the Government. If your so eager to support other people financially then start writing checks to Planned Parenthood. Leave the rest of us the hell out of it!

    October 11, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  22. Name claire

    Mitt Romney is so confused that he would do anything to win election.
    He has no stand on anything. no wonder someone said he is not a Christian.

    October 11, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  23. Ed

    I was certainly hoping he was moderating his position. I don't want to vote for Obama, but can't stomach pandering to the Evangelical right either. Maybe I won't vote.

    October 11, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  24. Paul Nay

    In the first trimester of pregnancy whether to continue the pregnancy – or not – should be entirely, totally, up to the woman whose bodily resources the embryo is living on.

    October 11, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  25. Name

    I have never seen 1 person lie so much running for president

    October 11, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
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