Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s ridiculous claim that rape victims can’t get pregnant has forced many to re-evaluate the assumptions they make about “pro-life” candidates. It’s a lesson that likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should take to heart, since he appears to be doing the same.
Romney has been relying on his “rape and incest” exception to an all-out ban on abortion as his sole means of battling the Democratic claims that he wants to take away a woman’s right to choose whether or not to bear a child. Fact checkers galore have criticised the Obama campaign for claiming that Romney supports a ban on abortion in all cases, saying Romney has explicitly argued that women who have been raped should not be forced to carry to term.
Now, Romney’s in a jam. Thanks to Akin, he has been forced to once more take a hard stance on abortion policy, and taking firm stances has never really been Romney’s strong suit. Even more alarming, he’s taking the stance on behalf of his running mate Paul Ryan, too. “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement,” the campaign said via statement. “A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
Really? Did they ask Ryan? After all, Ryan was one of the original congressional co-sponsors of the bill that would redefine rape in order to limit the number of women and girls who could get financial assistance to obtain an abortion. Ryan also asserted in 1998 that he opposed abortion in any case except to save the life of the pregnant person. Ryan’s repeated backing by Pro-Life Wisconsin, and now the Susan B. Anthony List, which both believe that life must be protected from the “moment of conception until natural death,” would also imply that rape exceptions just aren’t an option.
Now, Ryan is in a tough spot, as one Wisconsin journalist explains it.
I don’t see how Romney and Ryan can sell this to the base, which will see it as a Ryan sellout or forced surrender ordered by Romney – - a former moderate whom the base has never embraced.
When Romney decided to change the entire tenor of Ryan’s political career, did he check with Ryan first?