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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Obama ad distorts Romney's position on abortion

The statement

Says Mitt Romney "backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest."

President Barack Obama, in a TV ad

The ruling

To appeal to female voters, Barack Obama's campaign has been attacking Mitt Romney about his position on abortion.

The latest ad, "Jenny's Story," opens with a woman speaking to the camera and includes this claim: "Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest."

The Obama campaign says the claim comes from the 2004 and 2008 Republican Party platform, which included support for the "human life amendment."

The proposed constitutional amendment would declare that personhood begins at conception, and in 2007, Romney said on ABC's Good Morning America that he supports it. "I support that being part of the Republican platform and I'm pro-life."

But the Obama campaign has a problem in extrapolating Romney's position from that comment. Support for the amendment does not necessarily equate to opposing abortion when pregnancy is due to rape or incest.

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, a Washington advocacy group, has compiled the congressional bills in favor of an amendment dating to 1973. Some bills have no exceptions for rape and incest.

However, the most recent versions do.

In 2003 Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo, introduced H.J. Res 9 which held that "no unborn person shall be deprived of life." However, the bill adds "nothing in this article shall prohibit a law permitting only those medical procedures required to prevent the death of the mother of an unborn person: Provided further, that nothing in this article shall limit the liberty of a mother with respect to the unborn offspring of the mother conceived as a result of rape or incest."

And more recently, Romney has made clear that he supports the exception for rape and incest. In 2011, Romney explained his position on abortion in an op-ed in the National Review. It begins with "I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother."

In its effort to appeal to women, the Obama campaign has twisted Romney's position to a ridiculous degree. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at

PolitiFact: Obama ad distorts Romney's position on abortion 07/30/12 [Last modified: Monday, July 30, 2012 10:21pm]
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