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What is Romney's Legislative Agenda on Abortion?
Evan Vucci / AP
What is Romney's Legislative Agenda on Abortion?

Abortion remains an issue in the presidential campaign. One reason is Mitt Romney's stance on the issue.

The once pro-choice and now pro-life candidate wants Roe v. Wade overturned, but he does not want the United States Supreme Court to outlaw or limit abortion. Instead, he wants to return to the pre-Roe status quo in which states decide abortion policy.

During Thursday's vice-presidential debate, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Republican candidate Paul Ryan if Americans who believe abortion should remain legal should be fearful of a Romney administration.

"We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination," Ryan said.

Ryan's carefully worded response expresses Romney's position that the error of Roe v. Wade was to nationalize abortion policy.

In 2007, when Romney was asked about the landmark ruling, he said that Americans are not ready to ban abortion; so, he would prefer that states decide the issue.

"I'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned and allow the states and the elected representatives of the people and the people themselves have the ability to put in place pro-life legislation,"Romney said. "And of course it's our aspiration that at some point we'll see a nation that doesn't have abortion. But until that time, I certainly believe that allowing states and citizens and their representatives to fashion their own laws to protect the sanctity of life is very, very important."

Last Tuesday, Romney reignited the issue of abortion in the presidential campaign. Romney told the Des Moines Register that he did not know of any abortion-related legislation that would be part of his agenda.

The Register asked Romney about why he was now gaining ground with women voters. Romney said that one reason was that he was able to clarify his positions on issues like abortion. The newspaper followed up by asking, "Do you intend to pursue any legislation specifically regarding abortion?"

"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney said. "One thing I would change, however, which would be done by executive order, not by legislation, is that I would reinstate the Mexico City policy, which is that foreign aid dollars from the United States would not be used to carry out abortion in other countries." [full transcript here]

The statement was at odds with his earlier position that he would support anti-abortion legislation in Congress. Last year, in a National Review op-ed, Romney listed specific legislation he would push as president. He promised to "advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" and "support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood."

The Romney campaign quickly clarified its position in an email to National Review Online. Spokesperson Andrea Saul said, "Governor Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life."

Democrats saw Romney's comments as an "etch-a-sketch moment," an effort to repaint his image on the issue of abortion. President Barack Obama told ABC News in an interview that Romney has promised to support legislation and Supreme Court justices that would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

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What is Romney's Legislative Agenda on Abortion?