Romney abortion comment draws criticism
By the CNN Political Unit
(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a Tuesday interview with an Iowa newspaper that he has no abortion-related legislation on his platform – although as president, he would reinstate through administrative means 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.
The candidate said he would reinstate the so-called Mexico City Policy through administrative means, according to the newspaper.
The Mexico City Policy bans federal funds from being used by private groups “to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
It has generally been implemented by Republican administrations and dropped by Democratic presidents. President Barack Obama rescinded it.
After the remarks were published online Tuesday, 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.
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.
– CNN’s Jim Acosta, Rachel Streitfeld, Peter Hamby, and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report