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Remarks by Romney Surrogate Renew Scrutiny of Candidate's Abortion Stance

Remarks by Romney Surrogate Renew Scrutiny of Candidate's Abortion Stance

October 31, 2012 — Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), a surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, on Monday said that Roe v. Wade would not be overturned under a Romney administration, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.

During a town hall in Ohio, Coleman responded to a question about the influence of religious conservatives on the GOP. "President Bush was president eight years; Roe v. Wade wasn't reversed," Coleman said, adding, "He had two Supreme Court picks; Roe v. Wade wasn't reversed. It's not going to be reversed" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/30).

Coleman refined his comments on Tuesday in an interview with the Associated Press. Coleman said that he had been speaking on his own behalf and had meant to convey that Roe is a longstanding precedent. Republicans would debate issues like parental notification and other means to restrict abortion rather than Roe itself, he added (Thomas/Babington, AP/CBS News, 10/30).

According to the Huffington Post, Coleman's remarks contradict what Romney has stated throughout his campaign. Under the "values" section of Romney's website, it states that he "believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe" (Siddiqui, Huffington Post, 10/30).

Meanwhile, President Obama recently told Rolling Stone that Romney "has made clear" his position regarding Roe. "Typically, a president is going to have one or two Supreme Court nominees during the course of his presidency, and we know that the current Supreme Court has at least four members who would overturn Roe v. Wade. All it takes is one more for that to happen," Obama said ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/30).

Coleman's Statements 'Intentionally Misleading,' Opinion Piece States

Coleman's remarks on Roe were "blatantly and intentionally misleading, crafted to assuage voters who are presumably socially liberal in what looks to be the most crucial state for the election," Irin Carmon writes in Salon, adding, "It's also the exact opposite of what Romney has promised he'll support."

Although "it looks as though not much changed under the last Republican president, ... these kinds of shifts don't happen overnight," Carmon continues, adding that "many in the anti-choice movement have opted for an incremental strategy to avoid scaring the public, even as they prepare the legal, political and societal groundwork for the full-on abortion ban they desire." She notes, "With the retirement or death of a single liberal justice, they're likely to get it."

Further, the president "has other important powers when it comes to reproductive rights, from nominating lower court judges to choosing the heads of the Departments of Health and Human Services, the FDA and the CDC, as well as the attorney general, all of whom have discretion on these issues," Carmon writes (Carmon, Salon, 10/30).