Just one week after Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) “legitimate rape” comments caused a political firestorm, Mitt Romney appears to have shifted his rhetoric on abortion.
Despite repeatedly insisting that he only supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, and if the woman’s life is in danger, Romney told CBS Evening News on Monday that he believes that the procedure should be legal if the woman’s “health and life” is in danger:
“My position has been clear throughout this campaign,” Romney said. “I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother….This is a matter in the courts, it’s been settled for some time in the courts.”
After coming out against abortion rights in 2005, Romney has argued that abortion should only be limited to rape, incest, or life of the mother — a position his running mate Paul Ryan echoed as recently as this week. Here is how Romney has previously described his beliefs:
— “I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother.” [Boston Globe, 7/26/2005]
— “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.” [National Review, June 18, 2011]
— “QUESTION: Is there any abortion you would — you would accept? ROMNEY: Yes in — in the case of rape, incest or the risk to the life of the mother. I believe in those circumstances that abortion should be legal. [December 12, 2011]
Ryan opposes abortion in cases of rape or incest, but has said that he would back Romney on the issue. “Look, I’m proud of my record…. Mitt Romney is going to be the president; the president sets policy. His policy is exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother. I’m comfortable with it because it’s a good step in the right direction. I’ll leave it at that.” He has previously argued that “the health exception would render this [abortion] ban virtually meaningless.”
Asked if Romney has expanded or changed his support for abortion, a campaign spokesperson replied “No,” but did not provide examples of where the candidate had previously backed a “health and life” exception.
The GOP platform does not explicitly include exceptions for rape, incest, health or life of the woman.
Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul denies the shift to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent: “Gov. Romney’s position is clear: he opposes abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened.”