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Mitt Romney Distances Self From Todd Akin's 'Legitimate Rape' Comments

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In response to Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) inflammatory comment on Sunday that "legitimate rape" victims rarely get pregnant and therefore do not need abortions, Mitt Romney's campaign said that he and running mate Paul Ryan support abortion rights for rape victims.

"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, told The Huffington Post.

While Saul's statement is consistent with Romney's position on abortion, it's a clear departure from Ryan's position, which is that abortion should only be legal in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Ryan sponsored a fetal personhood bill, which would effectively criminalize abortion and some forms of birth control without exceptions for rape victims.

“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he told the Weekly Standard in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”

Ryan also cosponsored the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" with Akin in 2011. The GOP tried to narrow the definition of rape as it related to abortions with the measure. Only in instances of "forcible rape," the bill specified, would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered under insurance.

The sentiment behind the notorious attempt to redefine rape was echoed in Akin's comment on Sunday.

"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said of pregnancy resulting from rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."

UPDATE: The Obama campaign had previously accused Paul Ryan of opposing all forms of abortion. Politifact ruled that statement half true, noting that Ryan made exceptions for cases in which the mother's life was at risk. But the fact checking website did concede that Obama was correct in stating that Ryan supported a ban on abortions "even in cases of rape or incest."

CORRECTION: In the update to this post, it previously stated that according to Politifact, Ryan supported exceptions to an abortion ban for the "health" of the mother. The website suggests that he more narrowly supports an exception for the life of the mother.

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