In an interview to air this morning in Pittsburgh on KDKA, Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate, refused to even engage in a discussion of what “forcible” rape — as opposed to other kinds, such as statutory rape — meant, reports ABC News.
KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano asked: “Should abortions to be available to women who are raped?”
“Of course it is. Come on! You’re talking about Congressman Akin. His statements were outrageous, over the pale. I don’t know anybody who would agree with that. Rape is rape period, end of story,” Ryan said.
Delano continued: “Should abortions be available to women who are raped?”
“I’m proud of my pro-life record,” Ryan said. “And I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. 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.”
“You sponsored legislation that has the language ‘forcible rape,’” Delano noted. “What is forcible rape as opposed…”
“Rape is rape,” Ryan interrupted. “Rape is rape, period. End of story.”
“So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?” Delano asked.
“Rape is rape and there’s no splitting hairs over rape,” Ryan said.
According to The Huff Post, the exchange highlights the struggles Ryan has faced since Akin ignited a firestorm earlier this week by saying if a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” her body can shut itself down in order to prevent pregnancy.
Both Reoublican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Ryan included – immediately denounced Akin’s remarks and demanded he withdraw from the race.
Akin has refused, insisting he will stay in the contest against Sen. Claire McCaskill, an endangered Democrat whose seat is seen as key to Republican hopes to gain majority control of the Senate.
Akin’s comments highlighted a key disconnect between Romney and Ryan on a social issue that carries significant weight, particularly with women voters — a group Romney has struggled with against President Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney opposes abortion with an exception for cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother’s life. At the same time Ryan has stated that abortion should only be legal when a mother’s life is at risk.
The row has focused attention on Ryan’s views on abortion and raised questions about his decision to co-sponsor a 2011 anti-abortion bill that in early drafts talked of allowing federal funding only for pregnancies caused by “forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest,” notes The Telegraph.
However, even as Ryan tried to divorce the campaign from the notion that rape could ever be “legitimate”, Romney had met Dr Jack Willke, the pro-life doctor said to be behind Mr Akin’s extreme views, during the current election campaign.
Dr Willke, who claims rape victims almost never become pregnant, said he met the Republican nominee in Cincinnati, Ohio, in October last year. He also claimed to have met Ryan several times.
“He told me ‘thank you for your support – we agree on almost everything and if I’m elected President I will make some major pro-life pronouncements’,” Dr Willke said. “I thanked him, said he was 99 per cent of what we wanted, and told him I would help in any way I could”. A spokesman for Mr Romney did not return a request for comment.
Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, responded to Ryan’s recent comments in a statement.
“As a Republican leader in the House, Paul Ryan worked with Todd Akin to try to narrow the definition of rape and outlaw abortion even for rape victims,” she said in the statement.
“He may hope that American women never learn about this record, but they deserve an answer to why he wanted to redefine rape and remove protections for rape victims. Labeling these critical issues of women’s health as ‘distractions’ and refusing to answer whether he believes rape victims need to be protected, as he did in an interview last night, is a great disservice to women across America,” Smith said.