Romney accidentally says he favors ‘health’ exception for abortion

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 9:42 EDT
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Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holding a baby in Ashland, Virginia on August 12, 2012. Photo: Flickr user tvnewsbadge, creative commons licensed.
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A Romney campaign spokesperson said Monday that voters shouldn’t believe the former Massachusetts governor’s statement that he supports allowing women to obtain an abortion if their health is at risk.

“Gov. Romney’s position is clear: he opposes abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened,” Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent.

While that might not be surprising to anyone who’s following abortion politics in America, it might come as a bit of a shock to anyone who watched the presumptive Republican presidential candidate’s Monday night interview with CBS News.

“My position has been clear throughout this campaign,” he said. “I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the mother.”

The word “health” couldn’t be more clear: Romney essentially said he supports keeping all abortions legal unless the woman seeking one is healthy, even though pregnancy itself endangers a woman’s health.

And while he actually doesn’t support the thing he claimed to support, Romney used to be for it back before he was against it.

What Romney really said on Monday night is that he supports the abortion laws of 1967, when 49 states had criminalized the procedure, but many allowed “therapeutic abortions,” requiring a doctor to declare that it was necessary to protect a woman’s health. The Supreme Court reversed those laws with its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

Running for the U.S. Senate in 1994, Romney insisted that “since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years [...] we should sustain and support it.” And again in 2002, running for governor in Massachusetts, Romney insisted that he would “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose” and vowed to “not change any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.”

But as governor, he betrayed those views, vetoing a bill that would have provided emergency contraception to rape victims and resisting the legislature’s effort to specify that life begins when an embryo implants in the uterus. “I stood as a pro-life governor,” Romney said earlier this year.

Romney’s evolution on abortion sifted even further to the right once he began pursuing a presidential nomination from the increasingly conservative Republican Party, which states in its platform that rape victims should not be allowed access to abortion.

He’s since endorsed a proposal to declare fertilized egg cells “people,” called for the overturn of Roe v. Wade and picked a vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who co-sponsored a bill that would have given federal assistance only to victims of what he called “forcible rape,” and who said just last week that he sees rape as just another “method of conception.”

This video is from CBS News, broadcast Monday, August 27, 2012.


Photo: Flickr user tvnewsbadge, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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