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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    "Romney clarifies position on abortion"

    code fopr he is lieing again

    he will tell you anything you want top hear

    women are in trouble if he wins – if he does win Canada will help you women out

    October 10, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. bowlkoff

    @Travis Please with your scare tactics the Repubs are best at that. Remember when Bush was running for a second term and we had orange alert terror alert red alert blah blah what happened to all of that threat after he was re elected it all stopped. We all dont forget like the sheep herd repubs do.....

    October 10, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. AnAmericanWHocares

    Funny how when he ran for Gov. his position was pro choice in his debates ...What does this guy believe ..does he even know?

    October 10, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  4. ajw

    According to several sources including planned parenthood, the majority of their budget has nothing to do with abortion. Defunding them essentially is taking away medical coverage for low income women. That's not right.

    October 10, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. Common sense grandma

    It might be easier if his spokespersons made his statements for him in the first place. Seems each time he speaks, they immediately clarify what he "really meant." kind of like Forest Gump is running for office. Under a Romney reign, would we be hearing, "he did not really mean to declare war on you, he just meant to say something else."

    October 10, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. Richard

    All right, people. Especially 'myviewis'. Planned Parenthood does NOT use government funds to do abortions. Look it up. The parts that are funded by the government are education, counseling, CANCER SCREENING, STD tests, contraception, and other things. Only 3% of what they do are abortions, and that part is not government funded.

    This is a useless measure based on idiocy and misunderstanding.

    Get it? Do you understand yet? Cutting funding to Planned Parenthood endangers millions of women, men, and children, and will do NOTHING to curb the number of abortions. It will likely increase the number, according to the recent study.

    October 10, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. Max

    Flip-flopping Mitt...

    How can anyone trust Romney with leading our country? He changes his positions so fast and furious...no one knows for sure where he really stands on the MOST IMPORTANT issues. This flip-flopping pattern is not what we need in a steady president.

    October 10, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. stallionne

    I am flabagasted by all the effort to hold gov Romney to his words...it is counter productive...it like calling a seasoned thief ”thief”...or constantly asking the person ”did you steal something”..doh!!

    October 10, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  9. Ramon

    No mater what, OBAMA is a Historical Symbol for ever. Romney always will be a secondary subject for college students.

    October 10, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  10. CBR

    Dear Mr. Romney,

    A woman's reproductive organs are hers alone. She is the only one who should decided what she will or will not do. Her husband or partner and doctor should be part of her circle of people who give their advice. They do not make decisions for her.

    Each woman must make up her own mind as to what she will or will not do. It is not up to me or anyone else to make these decisions for her. Whether a woman is for a woman;s right to choose or she is anti-abortion the decision she be hers to make. Women must control their own destiny.

    The big announcement that Mr. Romney will not support Planned Parenthood should be retracted. Planned Parenthood stands for so much more than the abortion issue. To decide that you will take away any support is proof that you are not prepared to lead the nation. It would seem that you changed your position to garner conservative support.

    You have chosen Roe vs Wade and the whole women's right to choose debate as an opportunity for you to get Conservative voters behind your candidacy. It is too bad that you do not recognize that women are extraordinarily capable and they are continually in the news as they do more and more. IF this same woman, a CEO of a major company, is faced with a decision about her reproductive organs I guess you would tell her that a man will decide for her. How insulting!

    October 10, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  11. midnitejax

    Wha? Romney flip flopping? This cannot be!!! He wouldn't dare back peddle! Not Mitten!!

    October 10, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  12. Mike Miller

    I just don,t understand how the American People can support this guy. It like am in other world,
    My only questions is this , GOP said that POTUS is trying to control the American People and tell them what to do . But they are doing the same thing telling a person what they can and can,t do to their body. I wonder if he was a woman would he feel the same way. American wake up , Mitt will say everything to get in office and once he in office there nothing you can do until 4 years. and it could be two late

    October 10, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    It is not only abortion, Ryan plan will consider IVF treatment also illegal (please read the plan in it's length), take the pill away....so for one side does not allow women to have children through infertility treatments and on the other side make women have kids when they don't want or can have them.....and to freedom – you say Obama wants government in the bedroom – check again, is Romney/Ryan that it!! Do you understand what you read?! GEZZZZZ

    October 10, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    romneywill say what ever is necessary and change in the next city,, if you listen to ann romney on fox today she said her husband never lied,,, will changed his position everyday depending on who is is talking to ,,

    he will say anything to win then once in( if he wins which wont happen) he wil due what every he wants , you have to understand this si just a hyped ego trip he is on ,, he father diddnt win so he will change his position on every subject,, the american public is going to get tired and reaslise what a flip flopper his is

    October 10, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  15. Jake

    The idea that we shouldn't be funding population control is completely idiotic. Programs like this allow teens and young adults to make it through college into the real world, giving us a more productive society. It also keeps the number of women and children off of medicare/medicaid.

    October 10, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. Kevin

    Just so you folks who are clueless, a law is already in place and has been since the 70's so no government money is used for abortions. It does not happen, no taxpayer has had their tax dollars cover abortion. This is a lie from the right. Planned parenthood charges it's customers and receives private funding for abortion services. If you don't believe that then go to planned parenthood and ask, do you use tax dollars to cover your abortion services.

    October 10, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  17. Brett W

    Planned Parenthood services go way beyond abortion, in fact, only 5% of what they do is abortion. The Gov't does not fund it and the person having the abortion pays. Please do your homework on all the good things they do for women and provide services that save their lives.

    October 10, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. weathervane mitt

    The etch-a-sketch shakes again

    October 10, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Anonymous


    "Bottom line, abortion stays legal with Romney but you have to pay for your own abortion and not taxdollars will not pay for your abortion. What's the problem?????"

    He said before he would overturn Roe v Wade – so how can you say there's no problem?!!! If he changes all the time, how can you know what he will do if elected?!!!! Think, people! You do not know what he will do, how could you if in the last 2 years he has been changing with the wind?!! How?

    October 10, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. David

    Well considering NO tax dollars go to abortions at planned parenthood, all he would do is take away health care from young men and women. The only tax dollars that go to abortions are the ones that are performed at a hospital, not PP. People are so clueless.

    October 10, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. Mdwst1

    Is there ANY position in which Mitt Romney doesn't flip flop? How can anyone believe one word this proven liar speaks?

    October 10, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. Robert

    Romney is a liar! He can't be trusted as the most powerful leader in the free world, His character as a leader in America will create a moral decline for America and the world. Being a leader is serious business! His wife is not grace, a bad example for young girls. They are both worse than ex-Pres. Bush and Barbara!!!

    October 10, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Oh!! So that's how Mitt is gonna create 12 million jobs! He's going hire all those people as spokespeople to explain his shifting and varied positions on the issue of the day.

    October 10, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. Ethics Board

    It makes angry that we funded abortions and birth control with taxpayer money. I would much rather taxpayer money go toward keeping neurologically destroyed children of unfit parents and extreme prematurity from no prenatal care alive forever with no benefit to society. Read it and weep, liberals... spend millions of taxpayer dollars for each messed up child, then spend dollars on preventing that messed up children from being born... that's what America is all about.

    October 10, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  25. bapps

    Romney is something, flopping all over the place, saying what ever will get him elected, moving this way then that way,..... Guess he found out that the comment about no plans to support legislation "I'm familiar with" is taking heat from the right, so he just goes into never mind, didn't mean to say that mode. And, based on the polls, people are buying this crap. Did I mention I have a bridge to sell.

    October 10, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
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