Mitt Romney: The Complete Interview

I said I wouldn't borrow more money, I'd hold onto our borrowing cap, and, by doing that, I'm convinced we were able to turn the state around, add thousands of new jobs.

We went after our schools to improve them. We took Reagan principles, they were adopted for our state in a way that I think made a real difference.

Stephanopoulos: You've also described a change of heart on the issue of abortion. You were pro-choice then. You're pro-life now.

So do you now believe that abortion is murder?

Mitt Romney: Abortion is taking human life. There's no question but that human life begins when all the DNA is there necessary for cells to divide and become a human being.

Is it alive? Yes. Is it human? Yes. And, therefore, when we abort a fetus, we are taking a life at its infancy, at its very, very beginning roots, and a civilized society, I believe, respects the sanctity of human life.

This is something that I spent a lot of time agonizing over, because I'm personally very much pro-life in my own life, my family's life, but didn't know what the role of government should be and it's been something that I've given a lot of thought to.

But at a very critical juncture, about 2.5 years ago, we were discussing embryonic cloning, cloning and embryo farming, and I had the provost of Harvard University and the head of stem cell research from Harvard there.

And at one point, we were talking about this practice, this technique, and one of the individuals said to me, "This isn't really a moral issue."

I said, "Well, why is that?" They said, "Well, because we destroy the embryo at 14 days."

And in my mind's eye, I saw rack after rack of little embryos, of nascent humanity and then them being destroyed or killed one after the other.

And I said, "We have so cheapened the value of human life in this society, that I want to make it clear I'm pro-life."

Stephanopoulos: So if abortion is the taking of a life, should women who have abortions and doctors who perform them be jailed?

Mitt Romney: My view is that we should let each state have its own responsibility for guiding its laws relating to abortion.

My preference would be to see the Supreme Court do something which is up to them, not up to me. Even if elected president, I don't guide this. The Supreme Court does.

But I'd like to see the Supreme Court allow states to have greater leeway in defining their own laws.

Stephanopoulos: But if it's killing, why should states have leeway?

Mitt Romney: You know, that's one of the great challenges that we have. There are a lot of things that are morally very difficult and, in some cases, repugnant that we let states decide.

For instance, Nevada allows prostitution. I find that to be quite repugnant as a practice.

Stephanopoulos: But murder is illegal in every state.

Mitt Romney: And so we let states make some of these very difficult decisions. That's one of the difficulties here.

Also, I feel a great empathy for women who have difficult decisions in this regard. I don't want to impose my view on the lives of women, and yet this is one of those points where mature men and women have to come together and say, "What's the right course?" And in my particular view, I believe in life, I believe in respecting life, and I believe that we should, as a series of states, allow states to make their own choice in this regard.

Stephanopoulos: But, personally, what do you believe the punishment should be for an abortion?

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