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Truth Squad: Romney defends his record on abortion

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:39 AM EST, Fri January 20, 2012

Editor's note: Part of the CNN Republican debate fact-checking series

(CNN) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defended his record on abortion during Thursday night's CNN presidential debate in South Carolina.

The statement: "What came to my desk was a piece of legislation that said, 'We're going to redefine when life begins.' In our state, we said life began at conception. The Legislature wanted to change that to say, 'no, we're going to do that at implantation.' I vetoed that. The Legislature also said, 'We want to allow cloning for purposes of creating new embryos of testing.' I vetoed that. They didn't want abstinence education; I pursued abstinence education. There was an effort to have a morning-after pill provided to young women in their teens; I vetoed that. I stood as a pro-life governor." -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The facts:

Romney ran two statewide campaigns in Massachusetts -- an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 1994 and a winning one for governor in 2002 -- as a supporter of abortion rights. But in 2005, he vetoed an emergency contraception bill and declared in the pages of the Boston Globe that he was an opponent of abortion, though he "respected the state's democratically held view" in favor of abortion rights.

Romney went on to veto the other bills he mentioned as well, though state lawmakers overrode his veto of a bill that would have allowed the creation of embryos for stem-cell research.

In April 2006, he announced $800,000 in grants for abstinence education programs, which are supported by many religious conservatives as an alternative to sex education.

The verdict: True. Romney's opposition to abortion is still viewed suspiciously by many conservatives, but his record supports the claims he made Thursday night.

CNN's Matt Smith and Lindsey Knight contributed to this report.

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