Obama and Romney on abortion

Sunday, October 28, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 8:45 a.m. CDT, Monday, October 29, 2012

This article is one of 12 that examine where President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stand on some of the issues that are important to voters.


Barack Obama 

The Obama administration thinks abortion is a personal choice that should be made without interference from politicians.

“It's a decision between them and their doctor,” Vice President Joe Biden said during his debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Oct. 11.

Biden personally does not support abortion but thinks it is wrong to “impose” a law on Americans making abortion illegal.

Mitt Romney

The Romney administration opposes abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.

He thinks the Supreme Court should overturn Roe vs. Wade then leave it up to individual states to determine their own abortion laws. It is a “matter of the courts,” he said.

Ryan has said he thinks life begins at conception.


How much does it matter what the president’s view on abortion is?

John Petrocik, chair of the MU Department of Political Science, said that although the Supreme Court is the only body that can overturn Roe vs. Wade, the president does ultimately have a say in how abortion is handled in the country.

The president appoints Supreme Court justices who may or may not support abortion rights. The president also has influence over laws and regulations governing abortion. His people can introduce legislation, or he can veto it.

President George W. Bush, for example, signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

“The federal government, through laws and agency regulations, can withhold funds for many state activities that receive federal monies,” Petrocik said.

According to the Washington Post, the president’s administration can influence the amount of money each state receives in federal Medicaid dollars, which may or may not fund organizations that promote abortion.

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