Paul Ryan's hardline abortion views: Will they hurt Mitt Romney?

Romney's running mate has an extremely conservative record on abortion, which could make it tough for the campaign to dodge the Todd Akin backlash

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney has emphatically distanced himself from Rep. Todd Akin, calling the Missouri GOP Senate nominee's grossly inaccurate claim that rape victims rarely, if ever, get pregnant "insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong" — even going so far as to publicly urge Akin to drop out. Meanwhile, Team Obama, in a bid to widen its lead with women voters, is trying to to tie Akin to the GOP ticket through Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, who last year co-sponsored a bill with Akin that would have narrowed the rape exception in the rules on federally funded abortions to "forcible rape," and granted "personhood" to human embryos from the moment of fertilization. Is Ryan's record on abortion going to cost Romney votes?

Yes. Ryan puts the GOP ticket out of the mainstream: "Ryan's record on abortion is extremely conservative, even by Republican standards," says Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic. The "personhood" bill he and Akin pushed could have outlawed not just abortion, but IVF and even some kinds of contraception. And Ryan would surely ban abortions for rape victims if he could. Romney wants voters to forget all that, but the truth is he's got a running mate with abortion views most voters "could not stomach."

"What Romney wants you to forget"

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No. The Left is twisting Ryan's views: It's no secret that "Paul Ryan is unapologetically pro-life," says S.E. Cupp at the New York Daily News. But Democrats are trying to spin that to suggest that he hates women, using bogus charges like the whopper about how Ryan and Akin's bill sought to "redefine rape." The fact is that "forcible rape" is a legal term — ask the FBI. Using Ryan's proximity to Akin to suggest he thinks some rape is okay "is irresponsible, untrue and frankly, disgusting."

"Paul Ryan is not Todd Akin"

The truth is, Romney has good reason to worry: Pretty much everybody, Romney included, seems to recognize that Akin's views on abortion and rape are going to hurt the GOP in the Missouri Senate race, says Margaret Carlson at Bloomberg. And like it or not, when it comes to such social issues, "the difference between Ryan's views and Akin's could fit on a Post-it note." This is not what Romney wants to be talking about. But thanks to Akin's remarks and Ryan's legislative history, we're now in the midst of "a discussion in the presidential race over social issues that will be hard for Republicans to control."

"Todd Akin and Paul Ryan are more alike than you think"

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