Following up on an earlier item, Mitt Romney, apparently hoping to strike a more mainstream pose, told the Des Moines Register yesterday, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." Soon after, Romney's aides told reporters the opposite.
Today, opponents of reproductive rights "offered the Republican presidential nominee a not-so-subtle reminder of his pledge to do 'everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America.'"
By this afternoon, Romney was distancing himself from yesterday's pseudo moderation.
Speaking to reporters in Ohio today, Mitt Romney emphasized his opposition to abortion after pivoting away from that position in a recent interview.
"I think I've said time and again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president," Romney said. "The actions I'll take immediately is to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I've indicated that I will reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy which keeps us from using foreign aid for abortions overseas."
This is really a lose-lose proposition for the Republican. If he tries to moderate his hard-line conservatism on women's health and reproductive rights, the right deems it unacceptable. If he doesn't, Democrats remind women voters that Romney is beholden to far-right activists and is even further to the right on these issues than Bush/Cheney.
Indeed, we now know Romney's platform calls for a constitutional amendment that bans all abortions; Romney said he "absolutely" supports a "Personhood" measure that would ban all abortions and some forms of birth control; Romney would be "delighted" to sign a bill that would no longer allow abortions "at all, period"; Romney intends to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood; and Romney intends to fill the federal judiciary with far-right judges who would agree with him on reproductive rights.
And as long as we're on the subject, can we not forget how dangerous the Mexico City policy really is?
As we discussed in May, the Mexico City policy is also known as the "global gag rule." The policy bans federal aid to family planning groups that offer abortion counseling. (It got its name because Ronald Reagan launched the ban in Mexico City in 1984.)
The "Mexico City" policy prohibits US dollars and contraceptive supplies from going to any international family planning program that provides abortions or counsels women about their reproductive health options. The policy isn't about money going to pay for abortions. Even those groups that use only private funds for abortion services -- where abortion is legal -- are barred from assistance. This is money going to family planning programs.
President Clinton rescinded the Mexico City policy in 1993. But President Bush reinstated and expanded it on his first day in office. Now not only are organizations that provide or counsel about abortion services affected; those that dare to take part in a public discussion about legalizing abortion are also affected (hence the name "global gag rule"). Of course, those that call for restricting abortion rights are not affected.
This policy has nothing to do with government-sponsored abortions overseas. Ten years before the gag rule was in place the law strictly prohibited that. This policy is about disqualifying pro-choice organizations from receiving US international family planning funding.
Under Bush's policy, organizations that play a vital role in women's health are forced to make an impossible choice. If they refuse to be "gagged," they lose the funding that enables them to help women and families who are cut off from basic health care and family planning. But if they accept funding, they must accept restrictions that jeopardize the health of the women they serve.
President Obama, of course, overturned the Mexico City policy in his first week in office. A President Romney, among his many efforts to roll back reproductive rights here and around the globe, would bring it back.