DELAWARE, Ohio — Mitt Romney clarified Wednesday that he remains opposed to abortion and would take action if elected president to reduce the number of abortions that are performed in this country and around the world.
“I think I’ve said time and again. I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ll be a pro-life president,” Romney told reporters while greeting supporters at Bun’s Restaurant here. “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,” which does not allow American tax dollars to fund abortions overseas.
Romney’s position on abortion came into question because of a statement he made about abortion and his campaign’s muddled response Tuesday.
“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” Romney told the Des Moines Register. Later, his campaign put out clarifying statements that Romney remained pro-life and would “of course” sign legislation that protected life.
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” too sign a bill banning abortion.
The campaign reached out to prominent conservatives after Romney’s statement was published, according to Talking Points Memo. The website reported that campaign officials called Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and assured him that Romney’s position on abortion has not changed and that he remained committed to anti-abortion legislation, such as a House bill that would make permanent a budget amendment that bans federal spending for abortion.
Democrats seized on the matter, which arises at a crucial time in the presidential contest as both campaigns aggressively court female voters.
Romney “not only has trivialized this issue, but is being incredibly dishonest about where he stands,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation, told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. “Women just can’t trust Mitt Romney ... to be honest and direct about where he stands.”
And in an unusual move, First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in.
In a round table with reporters where she was asked about what Democrats have called the Republicans’ “war on women,” Obama said she would personally fight for women’s reproductive rights and that the issue should drive young people to the polls.
“It is the rare instance where we take a deep dive backwards, where rights and freedoms are allowed to be taken away,” she said, according to the Huffington Post. “I just don’t believe women will not fight tooth and nail to make sure that we continue to progress. I’m not going let it happen, whether I’m [in the White House] or not.”