In February of 2011, the GOP-led 112th House of Representatives introduced one of its very first bills. H.R. 3, also known as the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” sought to impose stricter guidelines on the pre-existing Hyde Amendment, a 1976 “rider” amendment that prohibits the use of taxpayer fund for abortion – which is particularly relevant for policy surrounding the DHHS and Medicaid – except in cases of rape or incest.
The original text of H.R. 3, however, changed that exception from “rape” to “forcible rape.”
When that happened there was an immediate backlash. Pro-choice groups including local branches of NOW, the Philadelphia Abortion Fund, and Planned Parenthood, spoke out against the possibility of women needing to prove that their rape was “forcible” enough to merit coverage. The bill even sparked the International Walk for Choice, a coordinated reproductive rights march in over forty cities around the world.
Eventually, the controversy prompted lawmakers to change the language in the bill back to “rape.” Representative Dan Lipinski, a Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, said, “The language of H.R. 3 was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so. Nonetheless, the legislative process will provide an opportunity to clarify this should such a need exist.” But even with the original language, the bill had 227 co-sponsors.
One of those co-sponsors was the now infamous Todd Akin. Another was vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
Since Akin’s remarks about pregnancy and rape went viral, Ryan has joined the Romney campaign in denouncing the remarks and distancing himself from the position. Yet the position Akin took is the position that Ryan took when he co-sponsored H.R. 3. Presumably it is one of the positions that won him the “Conservative of the Year” award in 2011. And it’s far from the first time Ryan has taken such a stance; in 2009, the Ryan-Johnson amendment (yes, the same Ryan) to a health care legislation bill proposed limitations on health insurance abortion requirements. The failed amendment sought to limit abortion coverage to life-threatening conditions and cases where “the pregnancy is the result of an act of forcible rape or incest.”
This isn’t just one instance in which Paul Ryan has agreed with an anti-choice extremist colleague; he has built a career on extreme anti-choice legislation. And if this veep candidate wants to run as Mitt Romney’s answer to the ultra-conservatives, he’s going to have to stop running from his record and start being honest with not only us, but himself as well.