Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has a reputation for holding positions that are politically malleable, from abortion to gun rights. That is to say, when he was running for Senate against Ted Kennedy in liberal Massachusetts in 1994, he said he was pro-choice, and as governor of the Bay State a decade ago he signed gun control laws.
News accounts detail instances where Romney, in his role as a bishop in the Mormon Church, helped counsel women against getting abortions except in extreme circumstances, in accordance with his religion.
But while his personal opinion on abortions may have been unwavering, his public position hasn't.
Since laying the groundwork to run for the Republican presidential nomination for the first time in 2008, Romney's positions changed as he courted a new voting base.
In selecting Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney doubled down on his pro-life position. The devoutly Catholic Ryan has consistently been pro-life throughout his political career, even co-sponsoring legislation that would endow "personhood" status to just fertilized embryos. While he personally opposes legal abortion in the case of rape, the Romney-Ryan ticket supports such exceptions.
Here's a look at how Romney's views on abortion transformed over the years:
1994 – Debate with Sen. Ted Kennedy
"I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country," Romney said at the time. "I have since the time my mom took that position since she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe vs. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it and I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice. And my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign."
Kennedy responded, "I am pro-choice, my opponent is multiple choice."
Romney asked for rebuttal time and said, "I have my own beliefs and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me that passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have committed to the belief that we can believe as we want but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter and you will not see me wavering on that or be a multiple choice."
According to news reports, the younger sister of Romney's brother-in-law died from an illegal abortion operation in 1963.
2002 – 2006
Romney performed as promised as Massachusetts governor and did nothing to threaten existing pro-choice rights in the Bay State.
But in 2005 he penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe to explain his decision to veto a bill that would have widened accessibility to emergency contraception.
"Signing such a measure into law would violate the promise I made to the citizens of Massachusetts when I ran for governor. I pledged that I would not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it," he wrote. "I understand that my views on laws governing abortion set me in the minority in our commonwealth. I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view."
2007 – Presidential Republican primary debate
"We should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states," Romney said during a debate on CNN. "I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country where we said we don't want to have abortions in this country at all. Period. That would be wonderful. 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 today 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 the country, terrific."
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.