Paul Ryan's positions on abortion have been nearly the same as Todd Akin's -- at least until late last night when the Romney Campaign issued a statement distancing itself from Rep. Todd Akin's ugly comments, but at the same time saying both he and Paul Ryan support abortion in the case of rape, which is in conflict with Paul Ryans previous positions, as reported by Sam Stein, and Laura Bassett. Reversing Paul Ryan's strong opposition to abortion, except in the cases of where the mother's life is in danger, is another major "etch a sketch" moment. Paul Ryan even sponsored legislation defining fetal cells as human beings, which would make abortion murder, unless being done to save the life of a mother in an emergency.
In response to Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) inflammatory comment on Sunday that "legitimate rape" victims rarely get pregnant and therefore do not need abortions, Mitt Romney's campaign said that he and running mate Paul Ryan support abortion rights for rape victims.So, Andrea Saul has just announced a major reversal of Paul Ryan's strong opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest. He even had sponsored legislation to recognize fetal cells as fully human which would make abortion murder, and compared the Roe v. Wade decision to the Supreme Court's shameful Dred Scott decision on slavery. But, now, it seems Paul Ryan is being "etch a sketched" as well.
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, told The Huffington Post.
While Saul's statement is consistent with Romney's position on abortion, it's a clear departure from Ryan's position, which is that abortion should only be legal in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Ryan sponsored a fetal personhood bill, which would effectively criminalize abortion and some forms of birth control without exceptions for rape victims.
“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he told the Weekly Standard in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”
Ryan also cosponsored the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" with Akin in 2011. The GOP tried to narrow the definition of rape as it related to abortions with the measure. Only in instances of "forcible rape," the bill specified, would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered under insurance.
So will Ryan go along with this, or blame Andrea Saul for confusion? Either way expect social conservatives to renew calls for her resignation. This discrepancy adds more evidence to those suggesting the selection of Paul Ryan as V.P. was not as carefully thought out as we have been led to believe. This discrepancy will also focus more attention on Mitt Romney's attempt to now swerve back to the center, possibly neutering Paul Ryan in the process. The selection of Paul Ryan was purported a strategy for consolidation, and firing up the base. But, moves like this are likely to cheese them off.
But, we need to make the connection between Todd Akin's and Paul Ryan's positions on abortion, so the outrage is focused in all the right directions.
And, make sure you have popcorn ready when we may start to see reports on the "Neutering of Paul Ryan." Mitt Romney's Magic Etch-a-Sketch has teeth.
These updates, below, are from an earlier version of this post which I did late last night, just after this announcement from the Romney campaign. It has some great comment discussion which is still going on. Here's a link if you would like to check it out.
I do not see any comments this morning from Paul Ryan, and the media reports I've seen so far on Morning Joe and CNN have reported the Romney campaign statement, but not yet focused on the apparent change in Paul Ryan's positions.
Chosen last week as Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan (R-Wis) didn't waste any time letting the country know his views, much to the surprise of Romney, or so it seemed. His views on the budget and Medicare have been the basis of the latest campaign ads by the Obama camp.
But what has not been talked about are the positions he has taken in his political career on womens issues. For example, he co-sponsored a federal "personhood" amendment, as well as voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
Ryan also opposes all abortions, except when the life of the mother is at stake. Of course, we now know his position on abortion if a woman is raped. He also supports a federal bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion. ...
With Ryan spending the past week on the campaign trail talking about Medicare, it has left him open to attack from womens rights groups, thus down-playing any gains he may have made in Florida. His position on ending Medicare as we know it, and the position he has taken on many womens issues, makes it clear it will be the women of America who will ultimately decide the winner of the election in November.
9:24 PM PT: I've been looking for confirmation of Paul Ryan's previous position on abortion and found this from Politifact.
The seven-term congressman has taken a consistent anti-abortion stand -- National Right to Life says he has never voted against its position in 13 years -- that has earned him 100% ratings from anti-abortion groups and 0% ratings from abortion-rights organizations.So this confirms the description in my post. Ryan has previously only approved of abortion in the case that the mother's life in in danger, not "merely" for rape, or incest.
News coverage of Ryan’s first congressional race in 1998, as well as statements he made to the National Right to Life Committee, a leading anti-abortion group, show Ryan has taken a stricter anti-abortion view than Romney.
The only anti-abortion exception Ryan favors is situations where an abortion is needed to save the life of the mother, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The National Right to Life Committee concurs, based on information the group says it collected in 1998 and 2000 from Ryan as a candidate.
So the Obama ad correctly claims that Ryan opposes abortions in cases of rape and incest.
But the tweet also says Ryan "supports banning all abortions."
That appears to go too far.
I don't see anything up at redstate, or other conservative blogs on this yet. as it just broke a few hours ago.
10:11 PM PT: I just saw this reported on CNN, at 1:06 am EST which is now Monday morning and they credit a different spokesman from the Romney campaign with this statement. It was "Ann Hennenburg" or something close, (sorry I did not write it down.) Perhaps, Sam Stein and Laura Basset spoke to Andrea Saul on the phone, and Ann Hennenburg issued a written, or phone statement to CNN, I don't know, but wanted to report the facts as I know them.
The statement seemed nearly identical, but went by very quickly.
Perhaps, the campaign changed spokeswomen knowing the hard core conservatives are already angry at Andrea Saul, for her comments last week, in response to the Obama campaign ad, where the former GTI steel employee said his wife died after he lost their health insurance, and Andrea Saul said, he should have moved to Massachusetts to benefit from Romneycare. Ann Coulter blew here top and demanded her resignation. So, I can wait to hear the responses tomorrow morning.
Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 5:19 AM PT: We still waiting for the mainstream media to notice that Paul Ryan's views on abortion are nearly identical to Todd Akin's
Ryan has earned a perfect rating from the National Right to Life Committee for his votes during his 14 years in Congress. The National Abortion Rights Action League tallied 59 votes that Ryan took on abortion-related bills. On each measure, he voted against abortion rights.BTW Senator Claire McCaskill is about to appear on the morning Joe show just as the commercial break. I hope see makes the Paul Ryan - Todd Akins connection.
“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” Ryan told The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, in 2010.
Shortly after the formal announcement of Ryan’s selection on Aug. 11, Obama’s team tweeted that Ryan would ban abortions even in cases of rape and incest and had sponsored a bill that would outlaw some forms of birth control. ... Romney’s campaign contends that Democrats are trying to confuse voters by attacking Ryan on women’s issues. “This is a desperate attempt by President Obama’s allies to distract from his failed economic policies, which have been particularly devastating to women,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the vice presidential candidate.
In a statement, the Obama campaign said, “American women know they can’t trust a Romney/Ryan ticket to stand up for them.”
In a 2010 essay for a conservative think tank, Ryan compared the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion to the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, in which the court ruled that black slaves were not legally people. “After America has won the last century’s hard-fought struggles against unequal human rights in the forms of totalitarianism abroad and segregation at home, I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights,” Ryan wrote.
6:00 AM PT: Here's sort of a smoking gun showing that Paul Ryan has actually been even more extreme in his opposition to all abortion, except if the life of the mother is at risk.
In a 2010 essay for a conservative think tank, Ryan compared the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion to the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, in which the court ruled that black slaves were not legally people. "After America has won the last century's hard-fought struggles against unequal human rights in the forms of totalitarianism abroad and segregation at home, I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights," Ryan wrote.
When he first won election to Congress in 1998, Ryan vowed to oppose all abortions unless they were needed to save the life of the mother. He voted for a bill requiring that women who receive abortions first undergo an ultrasound, and another barring anyone besides parents from transporting minors across state lines for abortions. He also voted against a measure to allow women in the military to receive abortions in military hospitals.
Ryan was also one of several dozen Republican co-sponsors last year of a bill called the Sanctity of Human Life Act. The measure, which never made it to the House floor, would give a fertilized egg the same legal rights as a person. Abortion rights groups say that would effectively outlaw all abortions, as well as some types of contraception and in-vitro fertilization. Efforts to implement such "personhood" laws at state levels have been rejected even in the most conservative settings.
6:13 AM PT: Finally, The New York Times Blog has caught this dimension of the story with an excellent overview of Paul Ryan's history on abortion, as well as quoting fact checkers supporting President Obama's charactorization of Ryan.
I can only quote a few of the many excellent paragraphs here:
Romney Statement on Abortion Contradicts Ryan’s Earlier Stance
By TRIP GABRIEL and MICHAEL D. SHEAR
A campaign statement that neither Mitt Romney nor Representative Paul D. Ryan opposes abortion in rape cases contradicts Mr. Ryan’s earlier position on the issue.
Although Mr. Romney has stated this position before, Mr. Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, has opposed abortion in the case of rape. During his first run for the seat in 1998, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that he opposed abortions in all cases except to save the life of the mother.
More recently, Mr. Ryan was a co-sponsor of a House bill last year defining human life as beginning with fertilization and granting “personhood’’ rights to embryos, a movement that supporters say will outlaw abortions in all cases, and may also restrict some forms of birth control.
A campaign commercial from Mr. Obama’s campaign went even further, accusing Mr. Romney of supporting “overturning Roe versus Wade” and alleging that “Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in case of rape and incest.”
Aides to Mr. Romney have been particularly angry about that last charge, since Mr. Romney has said explicitly that he supports rape and incest exceptions.