Our guest blogger is Jessica Arons, the Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress.On Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the Des Moines Register’s editorial board that “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” But his statement stands in direct contradiction to his record.
There are at least three pieces of abortion legislation that are, in fact, part of his agenda:
1. His campaign website says that “Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view.” Although the site goes on to say that the issue should be a matter for the courts while the country remains divided, he also said in a campaign debate that should Congress be able to reach a consensus on the matter, he would welcome federal abortion legislation. Moreover, when asked previously if he supported a state personhood measure, he replied “absolutely.” And his vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), has sponsored federal personhood legislation. Such measures would ban all abortions with no exceptions whatsoever and would threaten the legality of common forms of birth control and fertility treatments.
2. His website also says that “As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood.” There are two ways to end federal funding for any entity — through the budget process or with a standalone bill. Either way, both involve the legislative process. Indeed, Congress has already tried both approaches. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011 and that same year House Republicans threatened not to pass a budget and to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood. It should also be noted that Planned Parenthood and other clinics are already prohibited from spending federal funds on abortion care. The funding that Romney, Pence, and others have threatened provides family planning services like contraception and counseling to low-income women.
3. In a letter written by Romney and published on the LifeNews.com website, Romney stated, “I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.” This bill, based on junk science, would ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation, halfway through a pregnancy — well before viability when a fetus can survive on its own outside the womb and before some fetal anomalies are diagnosable.
Romney did say he would use an Executive Order to reinstate the “Mexico City policy,” which he described as banning U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to do abortions. However, as with funding for Planned Parenthood, a provision known as the Helms Amendment already bans foreign aid from being spent on abortion care. The Mexico City policy would deny funds for voluntary family planning services to any organization that uses non-U.S. money to provide, refer for, or advocate for abortion.
Bottom line: Mitt Romney can pretend all he wants that he is not a threat to women’s rights, but his record shows he is extreme on abortion and extreme on contraception.
Romney has clarified his position on women’s issues by reiterating his support for anti-choice policies. “I think I’ve said time and again. I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ll be a pro-life president,” Romney told MSNBC on Wednesday. “The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I’ve indicated I’ll reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy.”