Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Akin, His House Colleagues Largely Agree on Abortion Gop Platform Will Urge Constitutional Ban on Procedure

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Akin, His House Colleagues Largely Agree on Abortion Gop Platform Will Urge Constitutional Ban on Procedure

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- As an orator, Missouri Rep. Todd Akin may stand out for his clumsiness. But as a legislator, Mr. Akin's record on abortion is largely indistinguishable from those of most of his Republican House colleagues, who have viewed restricting abortion rights as one of their top priorities.

That agenda -- largely eclipsed for two years by a protracted fiscal crisis and the fight over how to manage the federal deficit - - has wedged its way, for now at least, to the center of the 2012 campaign.

It is focusing attention on an issue that helped earn presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney a reputation as a flip- flopper, threatening the GOP quest for Senate control and leaving Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Romney's vice-presidential pick, in the uncomfortable position of distinguishing himself from Mr. Akin, with whom he has often concurred.

It is an agenda that has enjoyed the support of House leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has called anti-abortion measures "obviously very important in terms of the priorities we set out initially in our pledge to America." It became inextricably linked to the near- shutdown of the federal government last year, when an agreement to keep the government open was reached only after it was linked to a measure restricting abortion in the District of Columbia.

Even as congressional Republicans, including Mr. Boehner, denounced Mr. Akin's remark that victims of "legitimate rape" were able to somehow prevent pregnancy, an agenda to roll back abortion is one that House Republicans largely move in step with. In an anti- abortion measure once sponsored by Mr. Akin, Mr. Ryan and scores of other Republican lawmakers, an exemption was made for victims of "forcible" rape -- though that word was later removed.

On Tuesday, Republicans approved platform language for next week's national nominating convention that calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, with no explicit exceptions for cases of rape or incest. That is a view more restrictive than Mr. Romney's, who has said he supports exceptions to allow abortions in cases of rape.

Mr. Ryan's more conservative views -- reflected in votes that would restrict family planning financing overseas, cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood and repeal President Barack Obama's health care law -- have come into sharp relief as Mr. Akin struggles for his political life. Mr. Akin and Mr. Ryan each have voted in this Congress for 10 abortion-restricting measures, as well as those that limited other family planning services.

Both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney have earned praise for their positions from the National Right to Life group and other anti- abortion organizations. "The right-to-life Romney/Ryan ticket is now complete," wrote Barbara Lyons and Sue Armacost, executive director and legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, respectively, on the organization's website. …

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