Romney, Gingrich Go After Each Other On Abortion In South Carolina, Florida

With Mitt Romney’s win in New Hampshire Tuesday night, the GOP presidential nominating contest now moves to the more conservative states of South Carolina and Florida, where the candidates and their Political Action Committees (PAC) are already running ads attacking each other on the issue of abortion.

Fourth-place finisher Newt Gingrich is out with a 30-second ad titled ‘Change,’ targeting the former Massachusetts governor for signing a health care law that provided coverage for abortion services and includes a requirement that an advisory panel appoint one member from Planned Parenthood. “What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life,” the ad asks. “Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board. And Romney signed government-mandated health care with taxpayer-funded abortions.” Watch it:

Meanwhile in Florida, the pro-Romney Restore Our Future PAC is dropping two mail pieces on Florida Republicans accusing Gingrich of, in part, backing legislation “that provided tax-payer funded abortions”:


Indeed, uninsured Massachusetts residents below 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) can participate in the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care program, where members receive health services by enrolling in health plans which cover a comprehensive package of benefits like “doctor’s visits, surgery, radiology and lab” and abortion services. The package of services was not specifically developed or approved by Romney — in fact he vetoed a provision for essential health benefits — but he has previously described the law as a whole as “the ultimate pro-life effort.” Section 16M (a) of Romney’s health care law, however, does state: “There shall be a MassHealth payment policy advisory board. The board shall consist of…1 member appointed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.” But Gingrich backed the law as recently as last year and even praised Romneycare in a 2006 newsletter.

The Romney PAC is also inaccurate in its abortion charge, however. The former speaker’s support for “abortion” is merely an endorsement of Hyde amendment restrictions that would allow taxpayer funding in cases of rape and incest. As Gingrich told CBS’ Face the Nation in 1995, “I think you should have [abortion] funding in the case of rape or incest or life of the mother, which is the first step.” He has since backed down from that position, however, telling a voter in Iowa, “No, I wouldn’t make exceptions” [for rape and incest].