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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    I am stunned, why has he got a bounce why are so many people considering voting for him now. I just do not understand how lying and confusing your postion on anything to this level means he gets taken more seriously. I thought indenpedant voters were of a higher intelligence. That is unbelivable. I would not vote for this clown if he paid me one of his spare millions.

    October 10, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. Reason & Logic

    The only clear-cut unwavering position Romney has on anything is that he wants to be president. He could care less what position he takes as long as it gains him the presidency.

    October 10, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. MTATL67

    So he will do what Republicans cry and whine that President Obama does.

    October 10, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. Dustin Goldsen

    Understanding Mitt is easy. Mitt has no values so he doesn't have to use words to communicate them. Mitt is the ultimate sales person who uses words only to convince people of things. Close the deal at Bain, Liberal Republican running for Governor of Massachusetts, Right wing conservative running for the GOP nomination, what ever you want.

    If elected its good by conservatives. Mitt's goal would be one thing and one thing only, getting reelected in 2016. Knowing he will run unopposed the focus would be on swing voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, not Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.

    So figure out what swing voters need and that would be Mitt the President.

    October 10, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. Romney is confusing. Seriously.

    Romney is confusing. Seriously. You never know what he is going say or do next and usual his surprises are, welllll... shockers!

    October 10, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. GOP Double Speak

    It is hard to know where Romney stands from one day to the next. It is dumb to defund planned parenthood since 97% of it's services are for services other than abortion. Also, we like the rest of the world need population control so the other 3% is needed also.

    October 10, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Just Sayin

    Willard Mitt Romney. W. Mitt Romney.

    There's another DUBYA for you.

    October 10, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. beevee

    This political chameleon has a position on any issue? that is laughable. His color (position) varies from day-to-day depending on where he is or who he is talking to on that day. Remember the 47% of americans he talked about to the rich people in closed door mmeting? and the turn around statement he made that he is for all? Tomorrow he will say something else on the same issue. The guy is an untrustable lying, flip-flopper. Amazing how gullible americans are to trust this guy.

    October 10, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. New Yorkers against Trump

    women are in big trouble if Romney wins. let's stick with Obama. we know he respects women.

    October 10, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. Jo

    Are women simply going to vote for a candidate because he supports federally funded abortions or not? This is what Obama's team and Lis Smith seems to imply. I hope women are much more multi-dimensional AND financially stable than having to require abortions that is financed by tax payers money.

    October 10, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. LMD

    Funny how,when running for Governor of Mass,he praised Planned Parenthood,said it was something he believed in as his mother,who ran for office was a firm supporter of it.And he also stated he believed in keeping abortion legal,as a very close family member had a botched illegal abortion and he knew the tragedy of this.

    October 10, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. Joeymom

    Having had Planned Parenthood save my life- and NOT through abortion services, thank you very much- this will have to be a clincher for my vote for Mr Obama, no matter what else I agree or disagree with either candidate. Planned Parenthood is too vital a medical service for low-income and in-crisis women and their families to have a unilateral move against it like this.

    October 10, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. msadr

    I'm a libertarian and a devout Christian who firmly believes that a fetus is not a person, and, a woman has a right to destroy it if she pleases. This anti choice nonsense makes me want to do anything to keep the republicans out of office – even voting for Obama. I mean abortion is a basic human right. It's sad that in America I have to decide between a thriving economy and my fundamental human rights. I'm thinking I'd much rather have my rights.

    October 10, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. layla17729

    This guy will say anything to get elected!

    October 10, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Mitt Romney has never clarified his position on anything, EVER!! He flops with the mood of the audience he is speaking to at any given time. That is his approach on everything and it seems to be working based on the most recent polls. Between this comment and his comment today about Syria God help us all should he be elected.

    October 10, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. susan porretta

    freedom–when an unwanted pregnancy occurs to a woman who does not have the means to support a child, it does become your issue (unless you are with Romney that we should let that child rot on the side of the road). Planned Parenthood encourages just that–parenthood when you have the means to support a child.

    October 10, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. Craig RB

    Romney would be a dangerous President. He would be a puppet of the tea party & the Koch brothers who would be making decisions for him. Furthermore, Romney is an absolute liar and a fraud.

    October 10, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. works4me

    Wait... wait... wait.... was I flippin' or or was I floppin' the last time I spoke?

    October 10, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. T'sah From Virginia

    The LITTLE bounce Romney got from the DEBATE is deflating in 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 – He would do it to himself because a LIAR forgets about the 1st LIE and then he must LIE again to cover it up. Romney and his sidekick boy-Lyan are compulsive LIARS and cannot be trusted!!!

    Flip-Flopping is a LIE – Etch-A-Sketching is a LIE – and LYING is a LIE – and Romney and Paul Lyan are the champs at it and it's so obvious!!


    Obama/Biden – The ONLY Trusted Way Forward!!!

    October 10, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. keepinup1

    If tax payers can pay for the purple pill it can pay to abortions. Romney's followers are just like him; Stupid. How can you ask people to trust in a man that says in public what he thinks people want to hear and in private say another. He makes me sick. The only platform he has and will have is to disagree with the President on any issue. I am a woman and will not stand by and let this idiot tell me what I can and can not do with my body. We accomplished abortions before it was legal and we will continue to do so without your permission Romney. I it's a sin then it's my sin to bare; not anyone else. Women are Americans too and our vote will be counted and we vote NO Romney for President.

    October 10, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  21. Annie

    I think Mitt needs prayer, so he can think straight. He has flip so many times until he has the people confused. I would not vote for anyone who is not sure of himself. He could not serve the American people if he flip and flop all of the times.

    October 10, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. Swing State

    Waffler-in-chief strikes again. This man has so many positions that he just can't keep his story straight.

    October 10, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. J

    Mitt Romney needs a daily briefing from his staff so they can tell him what his current positions are supposed to be!

    October 10, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. AgainMittens

    Does Mitt know where Mitt stands on anything anymore? He's running against everything he ran toward to get elected Gov. of Massachusetts.

    P.S.- Taxpayer money being used for abortion has been illegal since the 70's. All he's defunding is cancer screenings, birth control and healthcare services to young and poor women. How noble.

    October 10, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. imvotingforobama

    If abortion was so critical to the GOP, why didnt they get rid of it between 2001-2006 when they controlled the WH, Congress and Supreme Court?

    October 10, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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