When he was running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Mitt Romney called on his personal experience to prove his pro-choice credentials. During a debate, Romney said: "I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that."
Despite his previous statements that he didn't "believe that it's appropriate to legislate one's personal view for the entire country," Romney changed his mind and would now work to limit abortion. He now states: "I believe people understand that I'm firmly pro-life. I will support justices who believe in following the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. And I believe in the sanctity of life from the very beginning until the very end." He thinks "abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother," allowing for some exceptions in extreme cases, something other Republicans like Rick Santorum do not.
In addition to supporting abortion rights in the past, Mitt Romney was content with abortion rights being defined nationally by the Supreme Court. In 1994, Romney said, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice."
Mitt Romney now considers Roe v. Wade bad law and thinks abortion laws should be made state by state, explaining: "I would like to see each state be able to make its own decision regarding abortion rather than have a one-size-fits-all blanket pronouncement by the Supreme Court."
Romney has always supported contraception, and as governor he did not challenge a law that would require church-affiliated employers to cover birth control.
Romney has stayed pretty consistent on supporting contraception, and unlike Rick Santorum he doesn't think states should have the right to ban it. He says, "I can't imagine a state banning contraception. I can't imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so." In Romney's words, "Contraception, it's working just fine. Just leave it alone."
But while Massachusetts required all insurance plans to cover contraception while he was governor, he called Obama's similar plan an "assault on religion."
On a 2002 Planned Parenthood questionnaire, Romney wrote that he supports efforts to increase access to emergency contraception. And in 2005, after an initial veto, then Governor Mitt Romney signed a Massachusetts bill that required all hospitals, including religious hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
Late last year, Mitt Romney said he would support a personhood amendment to his state's constitution that would define life as beginning at conception, which would lead to the outlawing of abortion, as well as some contraception, including the morning-after pill and perhaps even the traditional pill, since both can prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted. So while he says he supports contraception, that position would be inconsistent with a personhood amendment. The confusing position led Rachel Maddow to explain how birth control works to the GOP candidate last Fall.
Mitt and Ann Romney attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in the '90s and even cut a check to the organization. In 2002, he filled out the group's questionnaire and marked that he supports Roe v. Wade and funding abortion services to low-income women through Medicaid.
"As president, I will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood," Mitt Romney claims. Romney says, "Look, the idea that we're subsidizing an institution which is providing abortion, in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood ought to stand on their own feet, and should not get government subsidy."