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August 20, 2012 2:51 PM Under Akin’s Cover

By Ed Kilgore

Props to The Atlantic’s Adam Martin for noticing something very interesting that’s happened during the furor over Todd Akin’s highly impolitic remarks about abortion and rape: GOP vice-presidential designee Paul Ryan has quietly “adjusted” his own position on the tiny number of abortions he’s willing to tolerate, bringing it into line with Mitt Romney’s.

While Ryan’s fans deny his cosponsorship of a federal law deeming a fertilized ovum a “person” eligible for the full protection of federal or state governments means he would ban all abortions, his longer record, according to the National Right to Life Committee no less, shows consistent support for abortion bans that exclude only procedures necessary to protect the life of the woman involved. And even on occasion when he’s supported “compromise” legislation that recognizes rape/incest exceptions, he’s been in favor of narrowing them, as in last year’s House GOP effort (eventually abandoned) to limit the rape exception to “forcible rapes”—an uncomfortable echo of Akin’s “reasoning.”

Now, all of a sudden, Ryan’s steered clear of those turbulent waters. But the whole brouhaha can and should stimulate new scrutiny of the logic behind the ban-except-for-rape-and-incest position that’s somehow been deemed “moderate,” as explained by Amanda Marcotte at TAP today:

While most everyone can see the absurdity of Akin’s comments, fewer pick up on the deeper problem of “rape exceptions” to abortion bans. When journalists and politicians refer to banning abortions except in the case of rape, they are assuming that there’s a way to construct abortion policy that allows women who “deserve” abortions to get them while preventing those dirty girls who consented to sex from having them. This is simply not the case.

What’s basically happened thanks to Akin is that the messy logic and morality of anti-choice GOPers and their rationalizations for positions that don’t sound politically toxic is under the microscope. From that point of view, even if Paul Ryan’s managed to reposition himself as more “moderate,” the whole ticket and the political party supporting it may find its troubles have just begun.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Ronald on August 20, 2012 3:32 PM:

    It is very important to note that the Republicans are currently meeting to decide on the party platform for the upcoming convention.
    Given that the ultra-conservative wing has had a heavy handed influence on that process, it will be very interesting indeed to see what comes out of that process. I'm guessing that they'll try to slip in under the radar...
    That won't work...
    heh.

  • thebewilderness on August 20, 2012 3:53 PM:

    The words matter, and how we define them matters even more. The definition of abortion has been broadened by the authoritarian right to include most forms of birth control, while the definition of rape has been narrowed to mean beaten into submission.

  • Juliet on August 20, 2012 3:53 PM:

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  • cwolf on August 20, 2012 4:36 PM:

    What’s basically happened thanks to Akin is that the messy logic and morality of anti-choice GOPers and their rationalizations for positions that don’t sound politically toxic is under the microscope. From that point of view, even if Paul Ryan’s managed to reposition himself as more “moderate,” the whole ticket and the political party supporting it may find its troubles have just begun.

    I wish I could get that on a Bumpersticker.

  • Anonymous on August 20, 2012 4:39 PM:

    FLIP-FLOP!

  • booch221 on August 20, 2012 4:40 PM:

    FLIP-FLOP!

  • Renai on August 20, 2012 4:51 PM:

    "Paul Ryan has quietly “adjusted” his own position"

    Imagine how much of that fluid policy positioning will take place if these two find themselves elected.

  • c u n d gulag on August 20, 2012 4:57 PM:

    Boys, you can't run away from this. And you Republican girls, too!

    This IS your position!

    Jayzoos H. Keerist on sodium pentathol, the man just said what most, if not all of you, say behind closed doors - whether you believe in it yourselves or not!
    In today's Republican Party, to take any other position, is the same as commiting political suicide.

    And now, you're running away from it because you realize that, outside of your base, the majority of women might find your distinctions between different kinds of rape, to be equivalent to the debates centuries ago about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?
    REALLY!

  • Ryan on August 22, 2012 11:12 AM:

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  • jlt on August 22, 2012 12:33 PM:

    No it did not...Ryan was co-sponsor on the most radical of those Bills...He is flipflopping and cowardly...Akin is no outlier! 232 repubs from the house voted to redefine RAPE!

  • Marnie on August 23, 2012 8:28 AM:

    Don't be fooled by Ryan
    He has multiple definitions of rape and all he did was narrow down to one of his definitions.

    Question is which one. And most likely it is one that excludes access to abortion for the victim.

    Akin did introduce the concept of punishment for the rapist.

    The Dims should pounce on that and point out the the Repugs consider the woman to be the perp and that they should punish her and ignore the rapist as well as the fathers of unwanted children.