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Former Planned Parenthood supporter Mitt Romney seeks to defund the organization

WASHINGTON – Republican 2012 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who came out Monday in favor of GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, attended a fundraiser for the abortion provider in 1994. His wife, then a stay-at-home mom, donated to the group from their joint checking account that day.

A photo from June 12, 1994 shows the Romneys at a Planned Parenthood reception and fundraiser in Massachusetts, according to ABC News and the Boston Globe. ABC’s Rick Klein reported in 2007 that the photo shows Romney and his wife, Ann, chatting with political activists and Nicki Nichols Gamble, then president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts.

ABC’s Klein reported that Ann Romney made a $150 contribution to the group that day, from a joint account she and Mitt shared. Romney’s 2008 campaign staff later confirmed to the Boston Globe that the donation was made, but said, “Since it was so long ago, Ann has no information of the circumstances.”

“They were both there, and I remember very well chatting with both of them, and talking about his support for the pro-choice agenda,” Gamble recalled to Klein. “We talked about the fact that he was taking a pro-choice position on the issues, and we were very pleased about that.”

At the time, Romney was locked in a Senate race with then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and touting his abortion-rights stance. He remained pro-choice as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, and become pro-life in time to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, during which he insisted he had an anti-abortion record as governor.

“Mitt Romney supports the Pence amendment,” spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told the National Review Monday. It makes Romney the ninth rumored 2012 contender to back the proposal by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) to eliminate all Title X grants for the health care provider, a hot topic in the budget negotiations that the two parties have four days left to strike.

In supporting the effort, Romney joins fellow 2012 Republican hopefuls, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and radio host Herman Cain.

Romney’s changing positions on abortion — and now his support for defunding a group he once openly made nice with — may create problems for him as he seeks his party’s nomination.

In a 2002 gubernatorial debate, Romney said: “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts’s pro-choice laws.”

He reaffirmed this stance during a press conference as governor in 2005. “I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the status quo with regards to laws related to abortion and choice,” he said.

Written by | Sahil Kapur

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