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What is Mitt Romney's position on abortion?

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Question: What is Mitt Romney's position on abortion?
Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has changed his position on abortion over the years. Formerly pro-choice, he now opposes abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is endangered by her pregnancy.
Answer: Romney's complete about-face on abortion -- from pro-choice to pro-life -- has made him suspect, with advocates on both sides critical of his views.

In his unsuccessful 1994 Senate run against incumbent Sen. Ted Kennedy, Romney is on record as stating, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country; I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate." His comments, made during a candidate debate, are unequivocal: "I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it."

During his 2002 gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts, another debate provided him the opportunity to reiterate, "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard." He assured voters, "I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts' pro-choice laws."

However, Romney claims his views on abortion shifted during his time as governor. During a November 2004 meeting with Harvard embryonic stem cell researcher Doug Melton, he was put off by Melton's description of the destruction of embryos used in research and he began to rethink his position. In 2005, he vetoed a bill that would provide the morning-after pill to rape victims.

According to one source, Romney has always been anti-abortion. Biographer Ron Scott believes Romney "simply had modified his position in 1994 and 2002" so as not to let his opinions impact his candidacy; by withholding his personal beliefs he "allow[ed] other people to make decisions for themselves."

Romney's official position on abortion as the GOP presidential candidate differs significantly from the platform adopted at the Republican National convention on August 28, 2012 which bans all abortions and makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

See also What is Paul Ryan's position on abortion?

Sources:
Elliot, Philip and Alan Fram. "GOP Platform: Abortion Ban Approved By Republicans In Tampa." Associated Press at HuffingtonPost.com. 28 August 2012.
Gabriel, Trip and Michael D. Shear. "Romney Statement on Abortion Contradicts Ryan's Earlier Stance." The Caucus Blog at NYTimes.com. 20 August 2012.


Rovner, Julie. "Mitt Romney's Evolution on Abortion." NPR.org. 29 November 2011.

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