Since the Todd Akin affair entered the national conversation, many commentators—myself included—have noted the extent to which Akin’s views are in line with the mainstream of the Republican Party, and nearly identical to ones held by Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee. This video, unearthed by Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, illustrates the point. In it, a younger Ryan denounces a women’s health provision that was included in a bill to ban “partial-birth” abortion. Exceptions to the ban, he argues, would make it “meaningless”:
If you live in a swing state, don’t be surprised if this video appears with a short endorsement from President Obama.
More seriously, if there’s anything that places you on the radical end of the abortion debate, it’s opposition to measures meant to save mothers from dying as a result of pregnancies gone wrong. Indeed, this is actually the least of Ryan’s anti-abortion extremism. During his 12-year career in the House of Representatives, Ryan has endorsed several measures that would ban abortion and greatly restrict women’s access to reproductive health care, even if their health is in immediate danger. At Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard provides a helpful list. Here are the more egregious examples:
The Sanctity of Human Life Act: This bill would have written into law that zygotes are legal people from the moment of conception. Like other, similar bills, it grants fertilized eggs the same rights as adult humans, and would make in-vitro fertilization and some forms of contraception the legal equivalents of murder.
The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: This 2012 bill would ban abortions in the capital after 20 weeks gestation. It failed in the House on July 31.
Ryan also voted for the “Protect Life Act,” which would have allowed hospitals receiving federal funds to deny abortions to women—or withhold referrals to other hospitals—even if doing so would jeopardize their lives.
It’s almost unfair that Todd Akin is the new national symbol of anti-abortion extremism; compared to Ryan, he’s almost a squish. Akin received a 90 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee during one of his six terms. Ryan has maintained a 100 percent rating throughout the same period.
I said this yesterday, and it’s worth repeating: there is no daylight between Todd Akin and anyone within the Republican Party leadership. The GOP’s clear aim is to outlaw abortion, and it will do as much as possible to move the country to that point. If you want to know what that world looks like, it’s not hard to find examples.