Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace argued on Sunday over GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's position on abortion. Warner said that during Ryan's 14 years as a Wisconsin congressman, he backed legislation that would not only ban abortion, but made no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape.
Wallace responded that Ryan supports Mitt Romney's position on abortion, and argued that Ryan has supported exceptions to opposing abortion for "some period of time."
Wallace: He has taken the position that Mr. Romney, which is to allow those exceptions...
Warner: But Mr. Ryan's voting record, Mr. Ryan's voting record, Mr. Ryan's voting record...
Wallace: Listen, Joe Biden didn't agree, Senator Warner, with a lot of Barack Obama's positions, but you listen to the guy in the top job.
Warner: So, Mr. Ryan has changed his positions now. I guess that's news.
Wallace: No, actually, it has been for some period of time.
Since joining the Romney campaign, Ryan has said that Romney will "set the policy" on abortion if elected. Romney, who described himself as "pro-choice" in earlier stages of his political career, today favors a ban on abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.
But a look at Ryan's record on abortion shows a different path. Last year, Ryan co-sponsored a bill that aimed to give fetuses "constitutional attributes and privileges" and did not include exceptions for cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancies. Ryan and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a Senate candidate who recently claimed that women's bodies can prevent pregnancy in the event of a "legitimate rape," were among a group of 54 co-sponsors of the bill, most of whom were male. The measure, known as the Sanctity of Human Life Act, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and has not reached the floor for a vote.
Ryan and Akin also co-sponsored a 2011 bill identifying cases of "forcible rape" as the only exception to an existing law that witholds federal funding for abortions. Known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the bill would have effectively eliminated funds for victims of statutory rape. Abortion rights advocates said the bill also would have limited the ability of women who are drugged and raped to terminate any resulting pregnancies.
The "forcible rape" language was later removed from the bill. Ryan described it as "stock language" and said in August that he agreed with its removal. In May 2011, the measure passed the House, but it is not expected to reach the Democratic-controlled Senate floor for a vote.
The National Right to Life Committee has said Ryan voted with the group on 78 abortion-related measures considered during his tenure in office. NARAL Pro-Choice America has also reviewed Ryan's voting record and described him as uniformly opposed to abortion rights.