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Romney defends self, party on rape, abortion and women's healthcare

August 26, 2012|By Maeve Reston

BOSTON — Rejecting Democratic efforts to convince voters that Republicans would “wage a war on women” with their policies, Mitt Romney offered an unusual defense of his Massachusetts healthcare plan in an interview that aired Sunday, and offered another condemnation of Missouri Congressman Todd Akin.  

Akin created an uproar and major political problem for his party when he made the baseless assertion in an interview last Sunday that after a “legitimate rape,” women have a biological mechanism to prevent a pregnancy.  

Asked during an interview with Fox News Sunday about the political consequences Akin’s comment has had for his party, Romney said he believed it was “a terrible statement” on Akin’s part, and called it “uninformed,” “outrageous and offensive.”

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“I think I’ve distanced myself from the thing he said as far as I possibly can,” he said, arguing that Democrats were using the statement to cast a shadow on his entire party.

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Romney to respond to the charge from Democrats that their party offers more support and choice in situations of abortion, rape or birth control and women’s health in general.

“With regards to women’s healthcare — look I’m the guy who was able to get healthcare for all the women and men in my state,” Romney said. “They’re just talking about at the federal level. We actually did something and we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes. I’m very proud of what we did and the fact that we helped women, and men and children in our state,” he said pivoting to an attack on Obama’s record on Medicare.

Addressing contraceptives, Romney said he and other Republicans “of course … recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There’s absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort to try and bring that up.”

Romney has, however, vowed to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, which, along with other services, provides contraceptives to those who cannot otherwise afford them.

Steering into the issue of abortion, Romney made the case for his opposition to abortion, which he believes should be banned except in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. (His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, would outlaw abortion even in cases of rape or incest, though he has said recently that he was “comfortable” with Romney’s position because “it's a good step in the right direction.”)

On abortion, Romney said: “That is something where men and women have alternative views on that, or different views. We look at an issue like that with great seriousness and sobriety and recognize that different people have reached different conclusions,” Romney continued. “But it’s not just men who think one way, women also in many cases are pro-life. There are two lives at stake: the child — the unborn child and the mom — and I care for both of them.”

Earlier in his political career, Romney was a strong advocate of abortion rights. His position switched before his first run for president in 2008.

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