October 10th, 2012
04:53 PM ET
7 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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. freedom

    Tax payers should not be paying for this service – and therefore, it would not be a government issue. It is a very critical, serious, and personal issue that should remain between a woman and her family, her doctor and her God (if she believes in one). Obama wants to have the government come into your bedroom – too much government !! I'm with Romney –

    October 10, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. bob

    Defunding planned parenthood makes absolutely no sense. You're going to have a glut of pregnant college girls and low income babies needing assistance. He is clueless to the real world problems.

    October 10, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. sayer

    Planned Parenthood also provides birth control. If you take that away, you are also going to have more unwanted pregnancies that will end up being aborted or on welfare/medicaid.

    October 10, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Lisa P


    Romney finds he must continually clarify his positions because the main stream press, under orders from the Democratic Party, finds it must continually mischaracterize his positions.
    October 10, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm
    So I guess that was the main stream press talking to the Des Moines Register's editorial board through Mitt Romney's mouth? That main stream press - not only tricky and completely subservient to the Democratic Party (all that stuff about President Obama losing the first debate is just part of some clever new evil scheme! Just wait and see!), but very, very scary. I think I sense the potential for a new kind of horror movie here...

    October 10, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. KLS

    So, if you don't want abortions happening, making it difficult for teenagers to get free and discreet birth control is definitely the way to go! What a brilliant idea!

    October 10, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Bill


    Why don't you ask Todd Akin in Missouri if abortion is a losing issue for democrats? And if you think this clown will work across the aisle, then please give me some of what you are smoking. It must be good!

    October 10, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. Funk Hue

    I hope his budget also takes away the tax exempt status for churches.

    October 10, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. SafeJourney

    Jesus H. Christ, Does Anyone in America know where Mitt stands On Anything. I am sick of his flip flopping the Majority of Americans are sick of Mitts Lying and Flip Flopping also.

    October 10, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. WhatNow

    Planned parenthood provides a lot of medical services for women. It is truly sad that someone who claims to be so supportive of the middle class offers nothing except cuts to the very resources they depend on. I guess that 47% comment was accurate after all.

    October 10, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. rs

    And he turns hard-right (again)! I don't know what is more troubling about Mr. Romney: his ability to be on all sides of an issue; his flip-flopping; or the radicalism of the positions he takes (for a time).

    The poor man seems to have no core values whatsoever.

    October 10, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. bombastus

    It's not Romney's position on any specific issue that is a problem it's his changing positions. He clearly is rushing to the center after having to play to right wing of the GOP to get nominated. What does he really believe? It look like he will say or do anything to get elected. There's no substance there. Santorium and the likes may be on the fringe but at least you know what you are getting. Voting for Romney is a total coin flip but what really disqualifies him is that there is a good chance he would be a rubber stamp for the tea bagger Congress. No matter what you think of Obama this is reason enough not to vote for Romney and no matter what side the fence you are on you don't want to turn the keys over to Eric Cantor and cohorts. Scary.

    October 10, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Frankie

    This is the second time since August he has had to backtrack. He lacks character. He will say WHATEVER he needs to on ANY issue, depending on what audience he is talking to, to get elected. How can he be trusted? Simple, he can't. The prolife people cannot trust him because he has taken the side of women's right to have an abortion and the prochoice people cannot trust him because he has taken the side of overturning Roe vs. Wade.

    October 10, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    This is getting RIDICULOUS!! When will this guy take a stance and stick to it? He lies so much he can't even remember his lies. Is the American public this dumb? What am I saying, many people look up to the Kardashians, Snookie, and Honey Boo Boo.

    God help us all if this pair of liars make it to the White House.

    October 10, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. Bob

    The only bounce Mitt is getting from the debates is the bounce from one position to another. He's for universal Health Care, now he wants to repeal it, but says he won't repeal "the good parts". When he was governor he was pro-choice, then when running for the GOP nomination he's was going to repeal Roe v. Wade. Now that wasn't popular to a group of women he was speaking to- so now he's Pro Choice. Then the Fox viewers got wind of it and now he's anti-abortion again. As Ted Kennedy said (when soundly defeating Romney in the MA senate race) "Romney isn't Pro-Choice, he's multiple choice."

    October 10, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. Bob

    Everybody sing it with me! "They call him Flipper! Flipper! Slicker than lightning..."

    October 10, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. Pete

    Romney panders so much to so many different groups that his stances are like mercury,a metal but also a liquid but isn't stable anytime,it continually is in motion,so is Romney stances always evolving,nice ha..Romney if pressed for facts always tells you he'll give the specifics when he gives them to congress,senate,pope,lord,aliens,Indians,cowboys yah know anyone that gives a crap because lies don't need specifics and tell these ignorent republicans on these sites this ,they believe in him,yikes!!!

    October 10, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  17. FactCheck

    I wonder what his stance will be tomorrow?

    October 10, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. Sean

    Oh Lord......The Flip-Flopper Flopped, again........or was that a Flip? Who the hell knows anymore? Is this REALLY the best candidate the GOP could come up with? SMH.......

    October 10, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  19. Maxx

    "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"

    Another lie from Mitt – he campaigned as a pro-life candidate. The man has no shame.

    October 10, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  20. Logic N LA

    Why is it this man spends half his time clarifying what he meant to say? What is he going to do after he gets us into all these wars he's planning ( Syria, Iran, Libya)- tell world leader this is what he meant to be doing?
    God help us if we end up with him as President. Let me clarify that- we are screwed if he becomes President.

    October 10, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  21. Ramon

    You are an original LIAR

    October 10, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Kevin in SEA

    Romney "clarifies" position on abortion...

    There, I fixed it for you.

    October 10, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. Sorensen

    Romney can never clarify anything. He just keeps lying. And he hopes that the electorate is stupid enough not to
    notice all his crap. You can see it in his little squinting, dishonest, panicking eyes. This is not a well balanced, secure,
    trustworthy man. And he knows it. And keeps acting, badly.
    He is not a leader. He has to buy and lie for everything.
    He should just go away.

    October 10, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  24. apple pie

    Why does this guy have to be constantly clarifying? Any time he's caught in a candid, unscripted moment, he screws up by saying what he really thinks. Then he has to backtrack and make it sound more palatable to the voter. What a freakin LOSER

    October 10, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    What position would that be? The ones in 1994 and 2002 that you were pro choice? The ones now that you will repeal Roe vs Wade and make sure you appoint a supreme court justice that will overturn the ruling?
    Or your position that you are going to close Planned Parenthood clinics and those women (again with those 47%+ leeches) can go someplace else?
    You picked lyan altar boy because he and akin (women don't get pregnant if it's not a "legitimate" rape) have a bill against women and pro choice.
    @Safe Journey – I couldn't agree with you more. He's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on a daily basis.

    October 10, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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