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 President Barack Obama rescinded it shortly after taking office in 2009.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. Smeagel4T

    Biden should just spend the debate going through all the positions where Romney has lied, flip flopped, and backtracked. Biden will need the entire debate time to do it.

    After having run as a hard-right "severely conservative" candidate in the primaries, he's now doing his best to lie, flip-flop, and backtrack to make himself nearly indistinguishable from Obama. His flip flopping everywhere clearly reflects his efforts to not be anchored to any position so he can pretend to be everything to everybody. His lack of an anchor means he flounders in interviews because he can't remember all the details of all his lying positions to tell during the interview.

    In this case he tried to pass himself off as "not threatening to pro-choice voters". He was hoping to slide it by without anyone catching him on it. If he could just avoid being caught on it, then he wouldn't have to explain himself to right wing voters, and he could mislead some centrists into voting for him. When he got called on it, he had to immediate start backtracking to assure right wing voters he was still "severely conservative".

    Right wingers should be everybit as concerned about who they are voting for as centrists. Which one of dozens of positions are right wingers supposed to assume are Romney's real position?

    Has anybody asked him whether he would pursue executive orders to try and quietly advantage the Mormon Church over all other churches? The government supplies funding to churches to support their poverty programs, etc. Who's to say Romney wouldn't quietly give the Mormon Church preferential treatment in funding areas like that? Somebody should ask him about that, and then start getting worried when his answer is "I do not know of anything CURRENTLY in my agenda that would lead to that conclusion."

    October 10, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  2. Jules

    So he doesn't plan to have any form of healthcare for poor people and he plans to take away funding for the main source of reproductive health services and birth control for them. That is a really really good idea. Of course I'm sure in Mitt's world all they really need is some magic underwear, that'll take care the whole problem.

    October 10, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  3. aceblazin247

    This guys says something and the next day he's clarifying. Just like all his other statements.

    October 10, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. Lar5

    Women of the United States beware. You rights are going to disappear. General Romney is leading the war and you will be devastated. It's not only abortion, it's access to healthcare and contraception and your self esteem. This man and the Santrorum and Aklinites of the GOP want to put you where they think you belong, in the kitchen and bedroom.If you have a job don't dare to think about equal pay for equal work. Women will be 2nd class citizens. The GOP, it's religious zealots and the Tea Party are your enemy. Remember this when you vote

    October 10, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Lola

    Why is it every time Romney "clarifies" himself, I feel that we stepped back into the 1800s? And as a woman, that means that I wouldn't have the right to vote, own land, or reproductive rights. Guess he just thinks I should rely on some "kindly white man" to tell me what to do.....

    October 10, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. Ann Wilson

    Planned parenthood provides PAP smears for cervical cancer, breast exams, and birth control. They also monitor
    young women who are on birth control pills. They were the ones who found out that I was very anemic when I was
    in my thirties. No matter what side of the abortion issue you are on, keeping Planned Parenthood funded just makes good sense!

    October 10, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  7. Francis

    How many people at CNN will loose money or power when Romney wins?

    October 10, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. Francis

    Do any of you clones know what propaganda is?

    October 10, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  9. Frank

    Mitt should shut up before he shoots on his foot and starts everything all over again and the polls will start to go down again. Because no one knows what Mitt wants. No one knows where Mitt stands. The more he speaks, theres a chance of flip flop every 10 words. America only knows Mitts name and his wife's name. That's it. If he wants the race to be tight, he should shut up. Because there is not ONE WEEK that Mitt says something that he shouldn't or we find out something bad. Being Romney is like crossing the street in Lybia. You can easily get shot.

    October 10, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. toobadsosad

    This is laughable. We already know the liberal medias position on abortion. So anything they or anyone else who is liberal says about Romney's position on this issue carries no credability.

    October 10, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  11. Jen in NC

    If you want to see an extremist stance on abortion, look no further than Obama, the only guy who voted against the infant born alive act. You can't get more extreme than that.

    October 10, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  12. lobo joe

    Willard- You are tripping over your conflicting statements you are starting to look like a liar. Also, where are the tax returns?

    October 10, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. Tai

    The man cant take a firm stamd on anything such a flip flopper

    October 10, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  14. Mkimbizi

    Mitt Who? This man came from Mars...you guys don't know?! You want a Martian who is clueless about what goes on here on earth to be your president?

    October 10, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  15. Fortinbras

    If he becomes president, we should all do the hard decisions for him through referendums. And god help us when he gets that 3am call on the red phone. People of his mentality become weak, error prone leaders who either get run out power or get swept away by history due to their ineffectiveness.

    October 10, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  16. Ambrose Smith

    Why didn't he mention that in the debate instead of Big BIrd? Too controversial so he decided to pick on Sesame Street.

    October 10, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  17. Bayley0402

    Lisa P – Romney has to keep clarifying his positions because he changes them every time the wind blows. My guess is that he can't remember what he actually says from one day to the next. He is not pro-life, he is pro-birth. After the baby is born, he could not care less. This is proven by the cutting of services that help people in need. You don't tell someone that they have to have a baby if they get pregnant and then cut off the services to help them.

    October 10, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  18. Bregginkrak

    Let Planned Parenthood go out and fund raise from their supporters. No one is saying they can't exist, just that when 50% or more of American's think abortion is murder it's not acceptable for the government to fund the organization. I mean if you believe something is murder it would be hard to support it any fashion.

    October 10, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  19. 0rangeW3dge

    Walk It Back, Mitt – – – or, just plain Take It Back

    October 10, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  20. 0rangeW3dge

    Outlaw teenage boys, then only the legitimate rapists will make girls pregnant,,,or not, because a girl's body will automatically shut down so there is no need for abortions anyway....

    October 10, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. Romney Hood's a FRAUD

    LOL. There you go again, Willard... Would you please just pick a side and stay with it for longer than a week??

    October 10, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. Fortinbras

    Its a good thing he never went to Vietnam. Hes too indecisive. He thinks too much with the left side of his brain. He wouldve come back in a body bag.

    October 10, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. sandyj

    Mittens has one night where he sounds like he isn't a puppet and people think lhe should be president. Can't people see that he is only tellihg us what he thinks we want to hear so he can be president? Remember when he takes away women's rights, destroys public education, sticks it to the elderly and gets us in a war where more young people are killed that we told you so.

    October 10, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Gladys

    Romney has more personalities than Sybil. She had 16. I think Mittens has about 65, one for each year of his flip flopping elitist out of touch life!

    October 10, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. etesot Obe

    I really need someone to tell me what Mitt Romney stands for? I'm beyond puzzled, and he is confusing people. Once he was against abortion, then for it "couched" under "my platform has no abortion related legislation". He was for self-deportation, and then some form of "amnesty", one for "let Middle-East situation resolve itself....resolve itself" and then "for a two-state solution"-Mitt was against auto bailout–let Detroit go bankrupt, then again, "I will take some credit" for Auto re-surgence. He praised Obamacare saying "I'm happy the President adopted my Massachussetts plan" then he U-turned saying "I will repeal Obamacare"–And of course " I have a $5 trillion tax plan" and then on debate night 'I don't have a tax plan".....Oh my God... Presidency needs a steady brain not a flip floper. Imagine a President Romney ordering a mission to capture Aiman Al Zawahari (Bin Laden's deputy), and then immediately running to the phone to call off the Operation.!!!!. Obama would never do such a thing...In Obama you see a calm personality with industrious feet –below the water, as of a duck..This is the person you want, not Flip-flopper Romney. The times are too uncertain , and dangerous to give a flip-flopper reigns of American Presidency....not now, not tomorrow. And certainly not Republicans. May be in 2025!

    October 10, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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