Romney, pro-life group exchange fire

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and the anti-abortion rights group The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) engaged in a war of words Saturday over Romney's refusal to sign an SBAList anti-abortion pledge.

Romney penned an opinion piece on the National Review's website Saturday explaining his refusal to sign the pledge, which SBAList notes has been signed by competitors Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts says he is against abortion rights and wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned. He says he also wants to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions but does not use federal funding to do so.

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“As much as I share the goals of the Susan B. Anthony List, its well-meaning pledge is overly broad and would have unintended consequences. That is why I could not sign it,” Romney writes. “It is one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood; it is entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America. That is precisely what the pledge would demand and require of a president who signed it.”

Romney says the pledge “unduly burdens a president’s ability to appoint the most qualified individuals to a broad array of key positions in the federal government.”

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in response said “the explanation raises more questions than answers.”

“He seems to indicate that he wants the freedom to nominate pro-abortion candidates for key cabinet positions such as Attorney General or Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is precisely what we want to rule out and it is unacceptable,” she said.

“He chooses to identify non-existent legislation that would defund hospitals as a reason not to sign. Defunding hospitals has never been considered by Congress, is not part of public debate, and is not part of the pledge. 95 percent of abortions are performed outside of hospitals. Instead, we outlined existing pieces of pro-life legislation that address taxpayer funding of abortion. We would like to know where he stands on each measure,” she said.

Romney's stance could come back to haunt him in the GOP primaries. Potential presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) at Saturday's Republican Leadership Conference made a point of saying “it saddens me when my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left.... We need to stop apologizing for protecting life.”