Responding to Democratic charges that he sought to narrow the definition of rape when he co-sponsored a House measure last year that used the term “forcible rape,” presumptive GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Monday that the phrase was “stock language” and that he agreed with its eventual removal from the bill.
“Democrats have been accusing you of trying to redefine rape,” Fox News Channel host Bret Baier said to Ryan in an interview that aired Monday night. “You co-sponsored legislation seeking to distinguish between statutory and forcible rape. Why?”
“Well, look. All of these bills were bills to stop taxpayer financing of abortion,” Ryan said. “Most Americans agree with us, including pro-choice Americans, that we shouldn’t use hardworking taxpayer dollars to finance abortion. Rape is rape, period. This is language that was stock language used for lots of different bills – bills I didn’t author – and that language was removed, to be very clear, and I agree with that, removing that language so we are very clear. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”
The GOP-led House has passed several abortion funding-related measures this Congress, but the one that employed the term “forcible rape” – H.R. 3, also known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” – has drawn renewed scrutiny in the wake of Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin’s remark that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy.
Both Akin and Ryan were co-sponsors of H.R. 3. A spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the bill’s main sponsor, told The Post last February that the term “forcible rape” was eventually dropped from the measure because it had been “misconstrued” by critics.
Ryan responded in recent days to questions regarding the measure and the Akin controversy by stating that “rape is rape,” a statement he reiterated on Monday and one that Obama has made in addressing Akin’s comments as well.
But the Wisconsin congressman did not elaborate on what he meant by “stock language,” a term that could wind up igniting further debate over an issue that Republicans would rather not focus on in the campaign.