Romney's Wife Gave Money to Planned Parenthood

Republican Abortion Opponent Accused of Shifting His Views


May 9, 2007—

Former Gov. Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, gave an $150 donation to the abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood in 1994, at a time when Romney considered himself effectively "pro-choice," the Romney campaign confirmed today.

Campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said Ann Romney had no recollection of the circumstances under which she donated the money.

He said an internal review of Romney's personal records has not turned up any instances in which Romney, a Massachusetts Republican, himself sent money to groups that supported expanded abortion rights.

"The governor has not donated to Planned Parenthood or abortion-rights groups," Madden said.

Madden said he did not know whether the former governor was aware of the donation, but he noted that Romney had been publicly committed to upholding a woman's right to an abortion until late 2004.

"This is an issue that the governor has changed his position on, that the governor was wrong on in the past and believes he is right on now," he said.

Giuliani Donated to Abortion-Rights Group

The issue of past donations to abortion-rights groups has exploded in the Republican presidential campaign in the past few days, with the revelation that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gave six separate donations to Planned Parenthood during the 1990s.

That information -- obtained from tax returns that Giuliani released when he served as mayor -- has forced Giuliani to scramble to explain his statements that he has always been personally opposed to abortion.

Planned Parenthood is the nation's biggest abortion provider and lobbies actively to expand abortion rights.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his top aides have been particularly strong in denouncing Giuliani for making the donation, but the Romney camp has not entered the fray.

Romney Changed Mind

Madden said a search of Romney campaign records unearthed only one donation the former governor had made to an abortion-related group: His foundation gave $15,000 in 2005 to Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

Thursday, Romney is scheduled to deliver a speech before that organization's Pioneer Valley chapter -- the first speech of his presidential campaign to an anti-abortion rights group.

The speech is expected to draw protesters from both sides of the abortion debate, with both abortion rights activists and abortion righs opponents upset with Romney's position on abortion.

Romney has conceded that he changed positions on abortion in late 2004, after running twice in Massachusetts -- unsuccessfully for Senate in 1994, and successfully for governor in 2002 -- on a pledge to preserve a woman's right to choose.

"When I ran for office, I said I'd protect the law as it was, which is effectively a 'pro-choice' position," Romney said last week at a Republican presidential debate. "About two years ago, when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, 'Look, we have gone too far.' It's a brave new world mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I changed my mind."

Romney has been dogged by questions about his previous position on abortion in recent months, with several clips of him talking about the issue in 1994 and 2002 getting wide circulation on the Internet.

"I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard," Romney said in one of those debates, in October 2002.

In that same campaign, Romney completed a Planned Parenthood questionnaire in which he expressed support for Roe v. Wade, public funding of abortions, and access to "emergency contraception," such as the "morning-after pill."