WASHINGTON (BP) -- President Obama's campaign has launched its fourth television ad criticizing the pro-life views of Mitt Romney, adding to what already was an unprecedented focus on the issue.
No Democrat has ever spotlighted the issue as much in a campaign as has Obama. ABC News reported the ad will air only in Virginia, where Obama and Romney are battling for female votes.
The newest ad asserts that Romney does not support abortion exceptions for rape, incest and to save the mother's life -- as have the last two pro-life presidents (George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush).
Earlier this year Baptist Press watched every Democratic nominee's television ads, from 1976-2008 -- that is, post-Roe v. Wade -- and found that only one other campaign (Bill Clinton's, 1996) discussed abortion in an ad, and that reference ("choice") came in a TV ad that discussed several issues.
The new ad shows CNN's Anderson Cooper asking Romney in a 2007 debate, "If Roe v. Wade was overturned [and] Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it?"
Romney answered: "Let me say it, I'd be delighted to sign that bill."
A narrator then ads, "Trying to mislead us -- that's wrong. But ban all abortions? Only if you vote for him."
Learn more about the presidential candidates' beliefs on abortion in our feature story, 'Election 2012: Obama & Romney on abortion,' here.
The advertisement did not include the full context of Romney's quote. "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," Romney said at the time. "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 ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, [and] we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific."
It wasn't clear if by supporting the banning of "all" abortions, Romney was referencing abortions in all three trimesters -- which sometimes is the topic when discussing a potential ban, or banning abortions with no exceptions. At the time he did oppose abortion with the three exceptions.
The new Obama ad was launched following Romney's own new ad referencing abortion. In it, Romney's campaign rebuts charges that he doesn't favor exceptions.
"You know, those ads saying Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraception seemed a bit extreme," a woman by the name of Sarah Minto says, looking into the camera. "So I looked into it. Turns out, Romney doesn't oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother's life. This issue's important to me, but I'm more concerned about the debt our children will be left with. I voted for President Obama last time. But we just can't afford four more years."
The Obama campaign's focus on abortion hasn't been limited to campaign ads. The Democratic National Convention saw 25 speakers reference the party's support for legal abortion, an average of eight speakers a night in what was the biggest emphasis on the issue since at least the 1992 convention. --30-- Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).