Romney-Ryan Camp Denounces Akin on Rape, Though Rep. Ryan Backed Him on ‘Redefining’ Rape

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Ryan.
Ryan. Photo: Jeff Swensen/2012 Getty Images

It seems Paul Ryan's beliefs on abortion might be out of sync with those of his new running mate. On Sunday, Missouri Representative Todd Akin made a controversial and biologically questionable claim that pregnancies resulting from "legitimate rape" are rare, and in such cases "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” (Akin later said he misspoke.) Before giving voters too much time to let wonder seep in, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg issued a statement distancing the GOP ticket from Akin's declaration. "Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Henneberg wrote. That may be right about a Romney-Ryan administration, but it's not where Ryan has stood in the past.

In 2011, Ryan and Akin were both co-sponsors of the "Sanctity of Human Life Act" that declares: “The life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” To ensure that citizens comport with that definition, the act would empower states to criminalize all abortion and some forms of birth control.

Think Progress notes that Ryan and Akin were also two of the first co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which sparked a similar controversy last year when it included language (which was eventually removed) that would limit the use of government funds to pay for abortions to cases of "forcible" rape.

“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” Ryan told The Weekly Standard in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod appeared on CNN’s State of the Union the day Ryan joined Romney, where he called the Wisconsin congressman “a right-wing ideologue.” “Congressman Ryan would ban a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest,” Axelrod said. “So he is quite extreme. Good, good person, you know, genial person, but his views are quite harsh.”

On the scope of those views, Think Progress reports that Ryan believes abortion should be illegal in all cases except where "a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother’s life.”

Before Ryan headed to Florida this weekend, the Obama campaign released its first ad concerning Ryan's views on women and women's rights, Politico reports. Striking the same tone as Obama's PSA tweet about Ryan's abortion views a few days earlier, the narrator (and on-screen text) says, "And both Romney and Ryan backed proposals to outlaw abortion ... even in cases of rape and incest."

Of course, the Obama campaign is eager to attack the Romney-Ryan ticket on women's issues, and thanks to the controversy over Akin's comment, they'll likely be forced to clarify how Ryan's position meshes with Romney's more moderate stance on abortion.

This post has been updated throughout.