Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer obscured Mitt Romney's stance on abortion by claiming that his October 10 remarks about pursuing a pro-life agenda as president do not contradict his earlier suggestion that he would not enact abortion legislation if elected. In fact, Romney's October 10 statements were "an abrupt about-face" that dovetailed with his long history of shifting his stance on abortion.
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Romney On October 9: No Abortion Legislation "Would Become Part Of My Agenda" If Elected
Mitt Romney: "There's No Legislation With Regards To Abortion That I'm Familiar With That Would Become Part Of My Agenda." During an October 9 interview with the Des Moines Register, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said: "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda":
REGISTER: Do you intend to pursue any legislation specifically regarding abortion?
ROMNEY: There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda. One thing I would change, however, which would be done by executive order, not by legislation, is that I would reinstate the Mexico City policy, which is that foreign aid dollars from the United States would not be used to carry out abortion in other countries. It's long been our practice here that taxpayer dollars are not to be used to fund abortion in this country. President Obama on the 10th day of his administration changed the Mexico City policy to say that abortion services were not prohibited in our foreign aid dollars. I would go back to the original so-called Mexico City policy. [Des Moines Register, 10/10/12]
Romney On October 10: "I'll Be A Pro-Life President" And "Immediately" Defund Planned Parenthood
Romney Campaign: "Gov. Romney Would Of Course Support Legislation Aimed At Providing Greater Protections For Life." In an article about Romney's Register comments, the Associated Press reported that Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul clarified that Romney would "support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life":
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," he told the Des Moines Register in an interview posted on the newspaper's website.
The former Massachusetts governor said he would instead use an executive order to reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy that bans American aid from funding abortions. President Barack Obama waived the order soon after taking office.
Still unclear is what Romney would do if a Republican-controlled Congress passed abortion legislation and presented it to him to sign into law.
The Romney campaign sought to walk back the comments soon after they were posted on the Register's website. "Gov. Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life," spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, declining to elaborate.
Romney supported abortion rights when he first became Massachusetts governor, but he changed his position while in office.
Saul said Romney's position is clear: "Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president," she said. [Associated Press, 10/9/12]
Romney: "I Think I've Said Time And Again. I'm A Pro-Life Candidate. I'll Be A Pro-Life President." Speaking to reporters at a campaign stop in Ohio, Romney addressed his Register comments by saying, "I think I've said time and again. I'm a pro-life candidate. I'll be a pro-life president." From NBC News:
The Republican presidential nominee, speaking to reporters during a stop Wednesday afternoon in Ohio, said he would act immediately as president to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and reinstate the so-called "Mexico City Policy," which prohibits the use of federal funds for promoting of performing abortions abroad.
"I think I've said time and again. I'm a pro-life candidate. I'll be a pro-life president," Romney said. "The actions I'll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I've indicated I'll reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy." [NBC News, 10/10/12]
Fox's Krauthammer: "There's No Contradiction"
Charles Krauthammer: "There Is No Wedge. There's Nothing There There." On Fox News' Special Report, contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed Romney's comments to the Register did not contradict his later remarks:
BRET BAIER (anchor): They tried to jump on this statement, Charles, that he made to the Des Moines Register editorial board, Mitt Romney saying that there's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become a part of my agenda. Suggesting that he's trying to moderate on abortion.
The Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul saying Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life and he will be a pro-life president, tried to drive a wedge in there, and Mitt Romney, kind of saying, that's not going to happen.
KRAUTHAMMER: There is no wedge. There's nothing there there. What Romney is saying is I have a agenda on abortion I will shape and I will make the legislation and here are what my positions are. There's no contradiction. [Fox News, Special Report, 10/10/12]
In Fact, Romney's Comments Were "An Abrupt About-Face"
ABC News: Romney's "Comments Today Were An Abrupt About-Face." As ABC News reported, Romney's remarks to the Des Moines Register were an "abrupt about-face" to his later comments regarding abortion:
A little more than 24 hours after he told an Iowa newspaper that abortion legislation would not be part of his agenda if elected, Mitt Romney told reporters today that he would "immediately" move to defund Planned Parenthood.
"I've said time and time again, I'm a pro-life candidate," Romney told reporters during a stop at a restaurant in Ohio today. "I'll be a pro-life president. The actions I'll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget.
"And also, I've indicated I'll reverse the Mexico City position of the president," Romney added. "I will reinstate the Mexico City policy."
But his comments today were an abrupt about-face from what he told the Des Moines Register Tuesday morning, when he said, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." [ABC News, 10/10/12]
Business Insider: "It Looks Like Romney Changed His Mind On Abortion Again." A post on Business Insider headlined "It Looks Like Romney Changed His Mind On Abortion Again" noted "this week, Romney once again appeared to sing another tune":
Mitt Romney's complicated relationship with abortion has long made him suspect to rock-ribbed conservatives. He started off his political career in the solidly blue state of Massachusetts as a pro-abortion-rights Republican, before switching to a firmly anti-abortion position shortly before his first presidential run in 2008.
This week, Romney once again appeared to sing another tune, saying in an interview with The Des Moines Register that "there's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." His campaign quickly "clarified" that Romney "would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life." [Business Insider, 10/10/12 (emphasis original)]
Romney Has A Long History Of Changing His Position On Abortion
LA Times: "As Massachusetts Governor, He Initially Supported Abortion Rights." As the Los Angeles Times reported, as Massachusetts governor, Romney "initially supported abortion rights":
Some conservatives have questioned how committed Romney is to opposing abortion, in part because as Massachusetts governor, he initially supported abortion rights. Now he would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest and to save the mother's life. In recent years he has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would "hopefully" overturn Roe vs. Wade and that he would be "delighted" to sign a bill banning abortion. [Los Angeles Times, 10/10/12]
Slate: Romney "Transformed Himself, In Retrospect, From Pro-Choice To Neutral To Pro-Life." In an exhaustive report, Slate outlined every position on abortion and personhood Romney has held since 1963, revealing a long history of revisions:
This account was impossible to square with the record. In the months after his November 2004 meeting, Romney had been pressed repeatedly to clarify his abortion position. He had refused to alter any part of his position until July 2005. And he had never shifted his position on changing the law. He continued to stand by his 2002 pledge not to restrict abortion in Massachusetts.
By the time Romney told the epiphany tale to Redstate in September 2006, he had patched up the narrative. His new version of the story ended with a fuzzier commitment to call himself pro-life. But in 2007, Romney added other fictions to his record: that he had "never said I was pro-choice," that he had "opposed efforts to advance embryo-destructive research," and that he had resolved to make Massachusetts a "pro-life state."
Of all Romney's revisions, the boldest is his effort to imply that he deliberately governed as a pro-lifer. The record, as documented above, shows that Romney ran for governor in 2002 as a man who would protect the right to choose abortion because he believed in that right, regardless of politics. Then, in 2005, he reinterpreted his pledge as a neutrality pact with the state's pro-choice majority. "We're going to maintain the status quo," he told reporters in June 2005. "It's a moratorium, if you will, on change." Romney reaffirmed that position in July 2005, when he vetoed the bill to distribute morning-after pills: "I pledged that I would not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it."
Romney wasn't attributing this record to luck. He was claiming credit for having chosen the pro-life course at every opportunity. He had transformed himself, in retrospect, from pro-choice to neutral to pro-life. Apparently, he thought his new story couldn't be falsified, since he would never have to face a pro-life bill. [Slate, 8/23/12 (emphasis added)]
PolitiFact: Romney "Has Flip-Flopped On The Issue" Of Abortion. In a post assessing the validity of criticisms made of Romney's abortion record by the Obama campaign, PolitiFact wrote:
On Romney, the record is murky.
To be sure, he has flip-flopped on the issue, earning a Full Flop on PolitiFact's Flip-O-Meter. His current stance, as he prominently posted in the pages of the National Review in 2011, is to outlaw abortion except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape and incest. He would press to see Roe vs. Wade overturned and allow states to set their own rules on abortion. [PolitiFact, 9/11/12]