Does Romney Have A(nother) New Stance on Abortion?

It should come as no surprise that Mitt Romney has once again changed his mind – and his stated position – on an election issue. Earlier this week, the formerly pro-choice, now anti-choice presidential candidate told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register that “[t]here’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” Romney did say, in the same interview, that he would reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid being used for abortions.

Romney’s latest statement marks a significant change from the Republican politician’s earlier stances on abortion. During his unsuccessful 1994 Senate run against Ted Kennedy, Romney said he supported abortion rights; likewise, in his successful 2002 campaign for governor of Massachusetts, Romney flat-out said that he “will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” Halfway through his term as governor, however, Romney flipped on the issue, and throughout this presidential campaign he has presented himself as strongly anti-choice, only supporting abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the woman.

(And even that position represents a shift from his previous anti-choice stance, in which he also supported abortion to protect the health of the woman. Many anti-choicers, including Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, oppose this exception because they believe it could create a loophole, such as an exception for a woman’s mental health.)

Of course, Romney’s language to the Register is pretty vague, and leaves him plenty of wiggle – or flip-flop – room. Note that he said there was no legislation that he was “familiar with” that would be part of his agenda. It’s not too difficult to suspect that he could become familiar with certain legislation pretty quickly if necessary, or that he would support new anti-choice legislation. It’s also not a huge leap to assume that at the very least, Romney would appoint anti-choice candidates to the Supreme Court; after all, as an Obama spokeswoman pointed out in response to Romney’s latest position, “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. Women simply can’t trust him.” Nor, I would add, can anyone – male or female – that cares about reproductive freedom.

About Sarah:
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out


  1. Good grief! Is this part of his alleged tack to the middle? A response to his (very minimal) post-debate bump with women? So crass, and if anyone believes that women will be the first “special interest” group Romney will happily sell out I’ve got a bridge to sell them. For some reason, women’s rights are the first to go under the bus. With Dems and Reps, imo.

  2. Liberals are full of it. And there is no point in feminism.
    There’s plenty of birth control out there and its cheap. None of these candidates has proposed
    To end access to birth control, the thing is that easy women want to have fun having sex
    And then abort like is the kids fault they didn’t close their legs. On top many of you favor late term abortion which is an aberration.regardless of religion or lack of it (I am not religious myself), it is aboutt taking into consideration the life (or in technical words the right to life) of that baby. Your mother was pro life when she had you. This also makes it easier on men to not assume their responsibility thus creating a generation of worthless irresponsible men, hence why these men are liberals.

    Stop having while sex, there is plan b if anything and maybe just maybe you won’t send up pregnant

    By the way, the federal gvt cannot be making those laws-yes the supreme court counts as the federal. And even the woman who roe vs wade was about-I forgot her real name now-ended up regretting the whole thing.

    You can’t be that selfish…its not about your body is about the new life inside.

    • It must be comforting to have such a black-and-white worldview, and to make such easy, sweeping assumptions about an entire gender – not to mention people whose lives you know nothing about.

  3. Thanks for you thoughtful views. I am pro-life and think abortion is abhorrent, but I feel I need to understand the pro-choice stance well because all of us have valid opinions to listen to. I do not plan to become a pro-choice supporter on this issue, but I do not deny you the right to explain your position. I wish that Governor Romney had the courage to state an opinion similar to this one. We are a nation of many views who needs to learn how to live with others who do not share our own opinions. I will continue to work in my sphere of influence to stop abortions from happening…not through legislation and incarceration. But I certainly respect your differing opinion on this matter.

    We only have one life to live. We need to live it with all the integrity that we can find. We don’t get another go around at this.

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