The HillTube

Ryan dodges question on ‘forcible rape’ language in House bill

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday wouldn’t discuss his co-sponsorship of a bill that initially had language limiting federally funded abortions to cases of “forcible rape.”  

Pressed by an interviewer on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill he co-sponsored that initially denied funding for abortions except in specific cases, such as “forcible rape,” Ryan demurred. 

“Rape is rape,” Ryan told KDKA in Pittsburgh. “Rape is rape, period. End of story.” 

“So that 'forcible rape' language meant nothing to you at the time?” KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano asked him.

“Rape is rape, and there’s no splitting hairs over rape,” Ryan responded.

ADVERTISEMENT
The original version of the measure banned all federally funded abortions, except in cases of “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.” After an outcry from women’s groups and Democrats, the “forcible rape” language was dropped from the bill.

The final legislation, which passed the House in May of 2011, would permit a federally funded abortion "if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest" or if it’s deemed necessary to save the mother’s life. 

Federal funding of abortions is banned by the Hyde Amendment, which Congress has renewed annually since the 1970s. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would effectively make those rules permanent. 

Ryan was asked Wednesday if a woman who becomes pregnant from rape should be able to get an abortion. 

“Well, look, I’m proud of my pro-life record and I stand by my pro-life record in Congress,” he said. “It’s something I’m proud of. But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration.” 

The Republican message heading into the Republican National Convention next week has been upended by Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) remark that pregnancies from rape are “really rare” and that in a “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Ryan denounced Akin’s comments as “outrageous” and “over the pale.”

GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney on Tuesday personally called on Akin to withdraw from his Missouri Senate race against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) as pressure on the embattled Republican intensified.

Akin has so far said he’s committed to staying in the race.

— This story was updated at 10:56 a.m.