Are the Anti-Romney Abortion Ads Misleading?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 19 2012 2:03 PM

Are the Anti-Romney Abortion Ads Misleading?

Andy Kaczysnki plays a new Obama ad side-by-side with an old Romney answer on abortion. The upshot, according to Kaczysnski, is that OFA ripped Romney out of context, and the "ad edits out that Romney was speaking of a hypothetical situation where it was the consensus of the country to ban abortion. Romney adds 'that's not where we are today.'"

I've started to become the most annoying, pedantic scold there is about context, so I want to agree. But we might be too hung up on the hypothetical. Here's the quote in the ad.

COOPER: If Roe v. Wade was overturned, Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions, and it came to your desk, would you sign it?
ROMNEY: Let me say it, I'd be delighted to sign that bill!

Here's the full exchange. Cooper actually asks the question of other candidates before getting to Romney.

ROMNEY: I agree with Senator Thompson, which is we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states. I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I'd be delighted.

COOPER: The question is: Would you sign that bill?

ROMNEY: Let me say it. I'd be delighted to sign that bill. But that's not where we are. That's not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.

Obama's ad leaves out the "return these issues to the states" line, so, yeah, that's misleading. But Romney's starting premise is that "we should overturn Roe v. Wade." Overturn Roe, and in a vast swath of the country abortion is illegal, immediately. How would Roe be overturned, anyway? By replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a justice who'd vote the way Sam Alito votes. Which Romney has said he's all for doing. For some reason, it's considered "scare-mongering" to tell voters that the next president will appoint judges who'll rule in ways his partisans are going to like. But it's true when the NRA says that Obama appointees are less likely to uphold gun rights, and it's true when pro-choicers say that Romney's justices will probably want to do away with Roe, as he says he does.

So, sure -- misleading edit, but I'm not sure what context would change the fact that abortion faces a legal threat under Romney that it doesn't face under Obama.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Launching a Serious Run at Apple and Samsung


Slim Pickings at the Network TV Bazaar

Three talented actresses in three terrible shows.


More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. Now There’s Just One Thing Holding Us Back.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.