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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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

    OMG – The guy is making me sick! Motion sick! The guy CANNOT TAKE a policy stance and STICK WITH IT. He says WHATEVER he thinks his audience wants to hear. MY PROBLEM WITH MITT: What will this guy do when a Far Right Wing group lays a Far Right Wing Bill on his desk? I'm betting he will sign just about ANYTHING they drop on him. Scary!...for all those who don't run around in a brown shirt and an armband!

    October 10, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  2. christian

    Romney's stance on abortion and EVERYTHING else changes depending on who he's courting.

    October 10, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. neal

    .....5......4......3.......2.......1......"mitten$ flips".............5......4.......3.........2.......1.....Mitten$ flops'....

    Mitt Robme has "ZERO" integrity.

    October 10, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. CalKar

    I think Mitt Romney was much better when he kept a single position. This back and forth to get the undecided and women voters is highly transparent. His debate performance was great until you realize that he shifted his position and left Obama speechless.....the next debate will be quite different.
    Remember "etch a sketch"....If elected, I would hope Romney would move to center (as Obama did on many issues and Clinton and others have in the past). It is the only way to be the President of ALL the United States. We are a country of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The President has to be the President of everyone!

    October 10, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. The Left Wing

    There is no legislation on abortion on abortion that would be part of my agenda.
    My tax plan is revenue neutral, there will not be tax cuts.
    I like the 47% of people who don't pay income taxes and will be their president.
    Are these the position of a sever conservative?
    Republicans, is this the man you supported in the primaries?
    Independents, do you believe these statements or the statements he made in the primaries?
    Low information voters, check back. Romney held the opposite positions during his campaign for the nomination.

    October 10, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Alinnc

    in response to freedom- federal funds cannot be used for abortions. And how did you arrive at the comment Obama wants to come into your bedroom. Seems like it's Romney and the GOP that want to make family decisions for you. You are living in a 1984 type of world, courtesy of the GOP. Repeat lies long enough and lots of people will believe them.

    October 10, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. 1ofthe47

    ok so not only r women not going 2 have the right 2 an abortion but lets also get rid of the one place they can go 4 free or affordable contraception and std testing america is already overcrowded under educated and infected with aids but from romneys pedestal im sure he is confident that the only ones that would b affected would b the 47 percent that hes not worried about

    October 10, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  8. DJ Reality

    Boy, is Romney something! Just wait a couple of minutes his view on abortion will change again. Pitiful! In 2002 he said his view was the same as his mother and he was pro-choice and it had been that way foe 35 years. And now.... He is just not a good choice for president. he keeps changing his views and policies. I can't tell what he believes in..

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

    This guy changes his mind almost more than I change my undies! Disgusting is what he is! Obama/Biden 2012

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

    We really dont know republican candidate position about :abortion,taxes,47%,inmigration,etc...one day said something the next the opposite? ???how to believe and trust him????

    October 10, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  11. mojoquasi

    The guy's a phony liar. But that's OK, half the people in the country are morons. It's a perfect fit.

    October 10, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    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." lol!!!! This guy is something else

    October 10, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  13. Nappi

    I can't take it anymore, Mitt says he is against abortion, then an hour later he for abortion. This guy is dangerous, Will The Real Mitt Please Stand Up. I can't wait to Vote against this Crazy person. I Hope "We The People" can see that this guy is not right for the Leader Of The Free World......

    October 10, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  14. Nelly

    What can you say about Romney. A used car salesman is a compliment to this guy.

    October 10, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  15. Name. Randy

    Obama has flipflopped on certain issues way more than Romney and I'm tired of that.

    October 10, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  16. Gerry Daley

    Never mind what Mitt is saying. He will Flip flop continuously on this issue as he did on every important issue in Massachusetts. A vote for Mitt is a vote for a man with absolutely no principles other than his own self-interest. The most important question to ask him is, "Are you lying now or were you lying then."

    October 10, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. arosel

    Of course when asked this during a debate, he'll laugh and deny he ever said such a crazy thing.

    He'll say "I love Planned Parenthood.

    October 10, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. Name

    No obortion be happen. God say it in 10 commandments no murder. We need go follow God rules if you want go to Heaven.

    October 10, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. publicmattersblog

    The "legitimate rape" claim still leaves me perplexed to this day. Rape is NEVER acceptable and it should never be excused. What is society coming to where rape is acceptable?

    October 10, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Flip flop...flip flop...flip flop...Romney's flip flopping is getting old.

    October 10, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  21. PA86

    But you see Mitt doesn't think everyone has TVs yet. . . . His new strategy is to answer a question in Iowa in a manner that will be least offensive to that audience and hopefully garner their vote. But. shhhh, don't tell 'em I said that anywhere else. So just in case it gets out, his staff quickly re-states his earlier position for everyone else who maybe has a TV. You know some of them 47 percenters maybe might own one.

    October 10, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  22. Cogito

    Romney hasn't clarified ANYTHING.
    He has merely changed his stance YET AGAIN based on what is most politically expedient for him.

    October 10, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  23. Bill Hart

    Mitt was for it before he was against it (and for it again). You pick-women's right to choose, taxes on the rich, Wall Street regulation, green energy, preexisting condition waivers, two wars, Syria, Iran, killing Osama Bin Laden, PBS, Planned Parenthood and the list goes on and on.

    October 10, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  24. spockmonster

    The GOP is learning to make up labels that mis-represent their unpopular positions.
    – "Freedom of Religion" means religion should be free to infiltrate government and education.
    – "Pro Life" means putting women's lives at risk by removig their medical choice over their own life.

    October 10, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. mdblanche

    Mitt Romney thinks his stance on the abortion issue is perfectly ambiguous and ill-defined. He sees no reason to elaborate any further.

    October 10, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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