Washington - Mitt Romney said on Tuesday that he has no plans to introduce legislation restricting abortion if elected US president, as he scrambles to soften earlier hardline views that could estrange women voters in November.
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," the Republican presidential nominee told The Des Moines Register's editorial board in the battleground state of Iowa.
But Romney said he would restore a law ended by President Barack Obama that prohibits non-profit groups receiving federal government funds from providing abortions in other countries.
Obama ended the controversial "Mexico City Policy", which bars US foreign aid dollars from being used for abortion, in the early days of his presidency in January 2009.
Romney said that if he unseats Obama in the 6 November presidential election, he would issue an executive order reinstating the law.
Last week, the former Massachusetts governor decisively won a head-to-head debate with Obama in part by backpedalling on some of his most conservative positions.
'War on women'
In the days since the face-off, Romney has inched toward the centre on a wide array of domestic topics that could appeal to women. Abortion and issues related to women's reproductive rights are among the most emotionally charged issues in United States.
Democrats have accused the Republican contender and others in his party of plans to roll back women's access to the constitutionally protected right, which pro-choice activists have termed a "war on women".
Romney, a Mormon who has expressed strong pro-life views, made his remarks as polls showed he had wrested the lead for the White House race away from the Obama, after the president's cringe-worthy debate performance.
Until then, the two candidates had been running neck-and-neck in nationwide polls, with Obama inching ahead in many of the crucial battleground states likely to decide the race.
But by late Tuesday, Romney topped the widely-read poll of polls conducted by the RealClearPolitics website, by 0.7 points, although other surveys showed a more sizable lead.