Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in an apparent fresh move toward the political center, said on Tuesday if elected he would not pursue specific legislation targeting abortion.
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney told the Des Moines Register's editorial board during a campaign visit to Van Meter, Iowa.
Romney's comment could be construed as reassuring some women voters who have had reservations about his candidacy. In recent weeks he has taken some steps toward the political center as he tries to attract independent voters before the November 6 election.
Some conservatives would like legislation aimed at limiting abortions, which were legalized in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Reacting to Romney's comments, President Barack Obama's campaign sharply criticized the Republican, saying he had previously pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
"It's troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.
Romney told the newspaper that he would issue an executive order to reinstate a ban on U.S. foreign aid money being used to pay for abortions in countries that receive the assistance. Obama had dropped the "Mexico City" policy on such aid shortly after taking office.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul, asked to comment on his remarks, said the Republican is "proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president."