Mitt Romney's Abortion Evolution

Romney has said he won't apologize for "becoming pro-life."

ByABC News
October 10, 2012, 12:05 PM

Oct. 10, 2012 -- intro: Mitt Romney's stance on abortion came under scrutiny this week after the GOP challenger said he would not make abortion-related legislation part of his agenda if elected president.

Some of his Republican primary rivals challenged Romney on his evolving stance on abortion, but the issue has been on the backburner for much of the general election. He is now the target of attacks by Democrats, who claim that Romney is trying to "cover up" his true position in order to win women voters, and abortion rights activists like Planned Parenthood, who said Romney was being "dishonest" about his stance.

Here is a rundown of Romney's stances on all things abortion-related, from supporting Roe v. Wade in 1994 to disavowing it in 2011, to backing away from any legislative changes in 2012.

Tune in to Thursday for live-streaming coverage of the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate moderated by ABC News' Martha Raddatz in Danville, Ky. Coverage kicks off with ABC's live preview show at noon, and full debate coverage begins at 8 p.m.

quicklist: 1title: 1994: 'Abortion Should Be Safe and Legal in This Country'text: In a now-notorious debate while running for Senate in 1994, Romney said he "believe[s] that abortion should be safe and legal in this country" and expressed support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

"I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice," Romney said during the debate against his Democratic opponent Sen. Ted Kennedy.

That same year, Romney and wife Ann attended a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood and donated $150 to the group. When asked about the donation during his 2007 presidential campaign, Romney's spokesman said the former governor had "no recollection" of his or his wife writing that check.

qucklist: 2title: 2002: 'I Will Preserve and Protect a Woman's Right to Choose'text: While running for Massachusetts governor eight years later, Romney assured voters in the moderate state that he was "not going to change our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in any way."

"I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose," Romney said during a 2002 debate against Democratic gubernatorial opponent Shannon O'Brien. "I am not going to change our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in any way. I am not going to make any changes which would make it more difficult for a woman to make that choice herself."

quicklist: 3title: 2005: 'I Am Pro-Life'text: After winning the governor's mansion, Romney used his veto pen in 2005 to block a law that would expand access to emergency contraception.

In a Boston Globe Op-Ed explaining his veto, Romney said he was "pro-life" and opposed a "judicial mandate" that dictated a nationwide abortion law, arguing instead that the issue should be left up to the states.

"I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother," Romney wrote. "I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."

Romney said he would uphold his campaign promise not to change Massachusetts' abortion laws, even though that campaign pledge was preceded by Romney's statement that he would "protect a woman's right to chose."

quicklist: 4title: 2007: 'We Should Overturn Roe v. Wade'text: During his first presidential bid in 2007, Romney explained that he had "changed my mind" on abortion while serving his one term as Massachusetts governor.

After debate moderator Anderson Cooper showed the clip of Romney saying in 1994 that "we should sustain and support" Roe v. Wade, the Republican presidential candidate said that "on abortion, I was wrong."

"I'm proud to be pro-life, and I'm not going to be apologizing to people for becoming pro-life," Romney said during a GOP primary debate in November 2007.

Romney went on to say "we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states." He also said he would be "delighted" to sign a bill as president that would outlaw abortion, if there "was such a consensus in this country that we said we don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period."

quicklist: 5title: 2011: 'I Will Support Efforts to Prohibit Federal Funding for Any Organization Like Planned Parenthood'text: Since 2005, Romney has consistently said that he is "pro-life" and believes abortion should be legal only in the case "of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother."

During the fiercely conservative Republican primary last year, Romney expanded that view to include cutting all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, reversing Roe v. Wade "because it is bad law and bad medicine," and ending funding for any international aid program that "promotes or performs abortions on women around the world."

"If I have the opportunity to serve as our nation's next president, I commit to doing everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America," Romney wrote in a National Review Op-Ed in June 2011.

While Romney said repeatedly that abortion laws should be left up to the states, he told Fox's Mike Huckabee in October 2011 that he "absolutely" supports a Constitutional amendment banning abortion.

quicklist: 6title: 2012: 'There's No Legislation With Regards to Abortion That I'm Familiar With That Would Become Part of My Agenda'text: Less than two months after accepting the GOP nomination, Romney seemed to tack back toward the center on his abortion stance, telling the Des Moines Register this week that he would not make abortion legislation part of his agenda.

"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney told the Des Moines Register Tuesday.

Such a stance seems to contradict the National Review Op-Ed Romney wrote in June 2011, when he named three pieces of legislation he would support if elected president.

"I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions," Romney wrote. "I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy to ensure that nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from America refrain from performing or promoting abortion services."

"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," Romney added.

The GOP nominee's spokeswoman Andrea Saul was quick to clarify her candidate's remarks Tuesday, saying "Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life and will be a pro-life president."