1. News & Issues
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What is Mitt Romney's position on contraception?

By

Question: What is Mitt Romney's position on contraception?
Often accused of waffling or reversing his position on several issues, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is particularly vulnerable to this attack with regard to his views on contraception. Although Romney has affirmed -- in his exact words -- the "right to use contraceptives," his recent support of legislation opposing contraceptive coverage and his own public statements throw into question how strong that support is. Muddying the waters even further is his track record on contraception which indicates a complete about-face on the issue in the past decade.
Answer: While running for the Republication nomination in the winter and spring of 2012, Romney was highly critical of the Obama administration's requirement that religious–affiliated employers cover contraception services in their health insurance plans. Yet his objection to this particular provision of the Affordable Care Act -- commonly known as Obamacare -- stands in marked contrast to his own position on the same issue earlier in his political career.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

"When confronted with a similar law as governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney didn't raise objections on religious or moral grounds, say people who worked in his administration or in health care interest groups there."
During his own overhaul of the health care system in Massachusetts, it didn't even come up:
"A consumer-advocacy group that tracked the progress of the health care law ushered in by Mr. Romney in 2005 and 2006 said the contraception question never arose. Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of the nonpartisan group, Health Care for All, said, 'Contraception was not an issue during the debate around health reform in Massachusetts.'"
More recently, Romney famously flip-flopped on the Blunt Amendment which CBS News described as "a controversial measure allowing U.S. employers to opt out of a rule requiring them to provide employees with contraceptive health coverage." When asked whether he supported the amendment in a February 2012 interview, Romney responded:
"I'm not for the bill. But, look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I'm not going there."
Yet as CBS and other news outlets noted, his campaign quickly walked back those remarks:
"Shortly after the interview, a spokesperson for Romney attempted to clarify his position....'Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing. Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith,' Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said in a statement."
Contraception is not the only women's issue about which Romney has made conflicting statements. His recent opposition to abortion illustrates another notable about-face from his previous positions. This pro-life zeal has been expressed through one stance that thus far has been rock-solid and unyielding: his commitment to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that devotes 97% of its services to health care unrelated to abortion.

Romney has repeatedly made it know that he would end funding for Planned Parenthood. In March 2012, during an appearance at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, when asked by a female student where "millions of women" would go for reproductive and sexual health care without Planned Parenthood, he reiterated his stand:

"Well they can go wherever they'd like to go. This is a free society. But here’s what I’d say, which is the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood … The idea of the federal government funding Planned Parenthood I’m going to say no, we’re going to stop that."
Romney's own website does not offer a clear-cut statement on his position on contraception, and the candidate has made conflicting statements about his views. In an August 26, 2012 interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Romney said:
"...[W]ith regards to contraceptives, of course, Republicans, and myself in particular, recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives."
But as can be seen from the above examples, Romney does not appear willing to go to bat for women to ensure those rights.

Sources:
Gray, Kaili Joy. "Aaaaaaand now Mitt Romney likes birth control and abortion again." DailyKos.com. 27 August 2012.
Madison, Lucy. "Romney clarifies stance on Blunt Amendment: 'Of course' I'm for it." CBSnews.com. 29 February 2012.
Nicholas, Peter. "Romney and Birth Control: a Shift." Wall Street Journal at online.wsj.com. 13 February 2012.
Shapiro, Eliza. "Mitt Can Run, But Not Hide, From Social Issues." Nymag.com, 20 March 2012.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.