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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    @ Rich "Abortion is a losing topic for democrats. That's why it annoys the democrats posting here. This independent is pleased with what I see from Romney."

    That isn't the point at all. Abortion is a very small fraction of what PP does. Romney, depending on what he is yammering at any given moment, wants to make deep cuts to various services – many of which will affect the poor. PP, with its affordable family planning and health services poorer and young women control their fertility and stay healthy. It helps women to have children when they can better afford and care for them – thus helping them avoid being the societal leeches that Romney dubs his "47%." The problem is that the Romney is proposing a far wider cut to an agency that provides artificial birth control and that goes against his religious dogma in a broader way than just "abortion." This insertion of his religious beliefs into his policy is the root problem.

    And if you think Mitt is going to effectively work "across the aisle," I think you are in for disappointment.

    October 10, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. klur

    to Freedom- wow, seriously? Obama wants to be in your bedroom? The Republicans are against gays, birth control, abortion for any reason- including rape (oh yea- your body will magically reject rape sperm because it is different than regular sperm), etc.... How exactly does Obama want to be in your bedroom? You are really delusional.

    October 10, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. pumanoir

    Romney is flip flopping his extreme positions now like a WOMAN ON A PERIOD just to get votes. Use common sense and your intellect when deciding who to vote for. As an independent, you'll who voted Republican in 08- I'm voting Democrats foe 2012.

    October 10, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. Deb in MT

    Mittens is "clarifying" his position? Huh. The question is, will he still agree with himself tomorrow?

    I'm just on pins & needles, waiting for Mittens' next shake of the Etch a Sketch.

    October 10, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. jane

    OMG....It didn't take long.....WHO, WHO in there right mind would vote for this guy!!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  6. I thought this was about Jobs

    Planned Parenthood is staffed by 27,000 staff members and volunteers.
    Does Romney care about these Jobs? Because employees usually are the first to be cut.

    Does anyone know how many employees PBS has?

    October 10, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. zadok50

    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. If anyone is stupid enough to believe this mans lies and deception you deserve what you get instead of talking about 47% it will be 77% or higher if he is elected. I know he is tall good looking and has a Superman hair cut but that does not excuse his lack of the ability to be an honest Commander and Chief. Romney means more War, more Fear, more Lies, More poverty, Less Jobs, but his billionaire benefactors will be in charge.

    October 10, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  8. Bigereads

    Robme's has no center of gravity. If he can make a dollar off of it, he'll do it, he'll say it, and he'll change it for you if you'll give him your vote. This man is a Mormon Bishop who wants to be President of a nation that has never elected a religious leader and rightly so. This man believes when he dies, he will go to the planet Kolob where only Mormon's will have life everlasting. The rest of us will just go to hell I guess. President Obama has proven he is the most decent man we've had in the White House since Eisenhower. He is a gentleman and is looking to do no harm to any American. He isn't looking into your bedroom window to see what you are doing, or probing your womb ro see if anything is in there, or following you to the pharmacist to see if you are buying birth control devices. He isn't shoving his religious faith down our throats or calling his enemies the utterly racist things they are calling him ad his wife.
    I am amazed that Obama has had the moral and decent stance he has shown us, while dealing with a racist Congress and their Teabagging hyena party. Willard Robme is just another ultra wealthy fatcat, draft dodging anti-American tax cheater . Becoming President is just another game to him and a means to spend his retirement at the expense of the middle class whose taxes support his good life here in America. He and his sons will never have to stand in defense of this country and will always do just what they do now, take everything we have to offer but give nothing of themselves back.

    October 10, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  9. brown291

    Apparently CNN is not tired of Romney's flip flop approach; Mr. Etch a Sketch can flip and flop and flip and flop and CNN goes on reporting about Romney's emotional one night stand as if he won the super bowl and Nobel prize. Wow I cannot believe how feeble we are as a nation, particularly when it comes to facts and integrity; When you have an Individual (like Romney), who has constantly changed his positioned over and over again there is something wrong with a nation that has psychologically accepted this behavior as a standard, and way of life.

    October 10, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  10. Dr. Bob MD PhD

    I say to those of you who are pro-life, why don't you adopt and pay for the upbringing of all those illegitimate children who are born because their mothers did not have the right to choose. I'll be damned if the self imposed moralists of the religious right are going to force us to spend our tax money to raise unwanted children who will probably end up dead or in prison anyway, costing the taxpayer even more money. On another note, I do praise Newt Gingrich's idea that if you choose to have a child and can't afford to raise it, we won't give you welfare, we will just take your kid from you and put it up for adoption. Lets face it, abortion is a much cheaper option than raising another generation or crackheads and criminals that will cost us far more in the long run. Doesn't that make sense right wingers?!?

    October 10, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Yellow Bird

    So. You are multiple choice. Correct ? The family guy? Don't mess around with my Big Bird !!!

    October 10, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. Patriot

    And the really sad aspect...the continuing bombastic praise and support of Romney by Fox pundits who are 100% effective as per the huge low-information segment of our population, i.e. those who are actually PROUD to be ignorant and who despise scientists and intellectuals.

    October 10, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. jane

    No he didn't...We're still unsure what this man stands for

    October 10, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  14. simonfacer

    freedom – "... Obama wants to have the government come into your bedroom – too much government !! I'm with Romney". Seriously? Seriously? The Democrats (including the President) want to keep the government OUT of the bedroom. The Republicans and especially Gov. Romney are trying to get government INTO the bedroom and your private life, they want to regulate and legislate your morality as THEY think it should be. Your statement is unsupported by anything either side has said or done in recent history.

    October 10, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. c carmenatty

    Mitt is a troubled man. For his religion his party and the nation! Obama 2012!

    October 10, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  16. Pander Bear

    More flip flopping which is just another way of lying.

    October 10, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Way back when, Mitt was pro choice. I guess it all depends on what day it is.

    I know conservatives will bring up Obama's flip on gay marriage. OK, that's one. How bout MItt's flips on abortion, legitimate rape, foreign policy, taxes, healthcare, mandates, 47%, etc? Mitt's flips knows no bounds.

    October 10, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  18. Donkey Party

    It's not just that right-wingers are insanely ignorant and illiterate, they're also extremely gullible, as is evidenced by how they continually vote against their own interests, and believe everything Romney and the GOP says, even when it's a proven lie. These people should not have the right to vote, as it tends to make America appear stupid and weak to the rest of the world. Rick Santorum was right about two things, one, that Romney is the worst Republican to ever run for President, and two, the GOP will never attract "smart voters".

    October 10, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  19. Paramad

    You know I hear the same whining from conservatives that don't want to pay for PBS,family planning, a myriad of other things they find onerous to their delicate senses. Well I had to pay for the two stupid wars the GOP foisted on us that amounted to trillions of dollars which could have funded healthcare for everyone in the US plus it would not have driven us into a financial crises The worst part is all the lives taken and destroyed in the Mideast and here in the US how much did that cost? And it was all for nothing!
    As long as the bodies are neatly buried and you don't have to smell the stench of death and see the horrible effects of the two wars. You whine about paying for programs that don't amount to a hill of beans when compared to what we spend every day for war.
    Paying for abortions is against your morals but killing kids when they are old enough to fight for your sorry behind does not seem to bother you in the least. Sleep well on your bed of money.

    October 10, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  20. Dont matter

    Govt funding to Planned Parenthood already cannot be spent on abortions. Yet again the GOP attacking women plain and simple

    October 10, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. RC

    1. Couldn't a clinic provide birth control and health screening without providing abortions? 2. Why is Romney the "flip flopper" he his perspective changes even slightly, while President Obama can "evolve" on any issue, including the definition of marriage? 3. Why would anyone agree with sending tax dollars overseas for abortions? This is completely crazy!

    October 10, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  22. Yonni

    I have never met a man who gets a break to clarify his point 100s of times. Foreign tip in London; he has to clarify his point, in Israel he has to clarify his point, 47% he has to clarify his point and so on and on. There are people suffering in prison without second chance. There is a workers who got fired because he comes late one day, a house keeper who broken a glass might not get a second chance with her employers, a young man in jail because an ounce of drug found in his pocket the first time he smoked may never had a second chance but this flip-flapper beside getting 100s of chances is also consider a legitimate run for the presidency of US. Mind boggling

    October 10, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  23. AquariousinAZ

    This article fails to correct the gross error in Romney's position in perpetuating the myth that Planned Parenthood is utilizing federal funds to support abortions. This is incorrect. Planned Parenthood has clarified on several occasions, including to lawmakers in Congress, that their accounting methods separate those funds from those utilized for abortions. So, this is a non-issue. Besides that, I am getting tired of men and so-called evangelicals meddling in women's health issues. If you are pro-life, than that's your personal choice and you certainly don't have to have abortions, however, so is pro-choice and I want men to stay out of my womb. To me, it is un-American, to allow one side to overrule the other. Live and let live but first improve our adoption system and work to improve our sky-rocketing child abuse statistics through education and prevention efforts.

    October 10, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  24. SwingState

    freedom says:
    October 10, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45
    [Snip] Obama wants to
    have the government come into
    your bedroom – too much
    government !! I’m with Romney –


    Republicans always contradicting what they say. They don't like big government unless it allows them to invade the private lives of others. You know...gays, women.

    And for one glaring fact, not everyone believes in God. Even this Catholic knows that. If it's against your morals then don't do it!

    October 10, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  25. Anna Ryan

    No matter what Mitt says, he is way better than the jerk that is in office now!

    October 10, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12