Democrats are trying to use Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's bizarre and offensive comments about rape and pregnancy to smear GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. And many journalists are playing along.
According to Chris Good of ABC News:
Now with Akin making headlines, Democrats will seek to tie Ryan to the Missouri congressman by highlighting social-issues legislation on which they've partnered.
Akin and Ryan cosponsored a 2011 bill, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, that would redefine rape as "forcible rape," narrowing the scope of what's considered rape in cases of abortion.
The ABC journalist reports as fact the claim that the bill would "redefine rape" and narrow "the scope of what's considered rape in cases of abortion." But ABC provides no evidence to support this claim. The intent of the word "forcible" was to prevent taxpayer-funding of abortions in the case of statutory rape--i.e. when a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old have consensual sex, which no one thinks is the moral or legal equivalent of forced sex.
By all indications, the longstanding interpretation of the Hyde amendment's exception that allows Medicaid to pay for abortion in the case of rape has always excluded "statutory rape." The word "forcible" wouldn't have "redefined" rape--it was simply an attempt to codify this longstanding interpretation of the Hyde amdendment. Because the word appeared to be redundant and gave Democrats the opportunity to smear pro-life Republicans, it was dropped from the bill.
The ABC reporter fails to note is that the word "forcible" was removed from the final text of the bill. Has there ever been so much furor over one word in a bill that was never voted on?
The "No Taxpayer-Funding for Abortion Act" was not an extreme piece of legislation--it had 11 Democratic cosponsors and passed the House 251 to 175. If Democrats want to smear Paul Ryan with the false claim he tried to "redefine rape," they must also argue that those 11 Democrats, including Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly, tried to "redefine rape."
In reality, it's Barack Obama's support for taxpayer-funding of abortion that's deeply unpopular. According to one Quinnipiac poll, 72 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer-funding of abortion. When will Obama have to answer questions about his extremism on abortion?