Todd Akin Rape Comment Forces Romney and Paul Ryan to Figure Out Abortion Stance

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who just nine days ago joined a Republican presidential campaign already under attack for “flip-flopping,” has perhaps compromised his conservative values, especially his 100% rating by the National Right to Life Committee. 

After Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin asserted that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Ryan were forced to explicitly state their stance on abortion. Campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg explained: “A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”

The outrage created by Akin’s statements inadvertently forced the hand of the Romney-Ryan ticket on the issue of abortion, bringing women’s rights to the forefront of public discussion. The Romney-Ryan ticket now holds a moderate view on abortion, even despite Ryan’s own staunchly conservative leanings on the issue.

Yet, after announcing their abortion stance,  it is still unclear how the Romney-Ryan pair — a team consisting of a moderate and a Tea Party Republican — will compromise the rest of their differing policies.  

The newly announced position reflects Romney’s stance on abortion, but is a drastic deviation from Ryan’s rigid pro-life stand. In his years in Congress, Ryan has voted 59 times for the anti-choice position. He said, “I’m as pro-life as a person gets. You’re not going to have a truce … I’m never going to not vote pro-life.”

But as Ryan follows Romney onto the ballot, more contradictions between Ryan’s Tea Party values and Romney’s policies on certain issues must be managed before the two can represent a unified image. Beyond the apparent budget and Medicare disparities, Romney and Ryan also appear to have different views on the educational benefits minority students receive and environmental regulation issues.

In Romney’s book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, he writes: “About half of African American and Hispanic American students drop out before receiving a high-school degree. The result is that we are virtually assuring the creation of permanent underclass. It is an inexplicable human tragedy when millions of American children barely attain a third-world education in a nation that offers all its citizens access to free public schooling. Our current failure to educate our minority populations is the foremost civil-rights issue of our generation.”

Ryan, however, voted no on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges just four years before the publication of his partner’s book.

The pair also disagrees on the environment. Romney has acknowledged climate change as a real concern, partially as a result of human contribution. Ryan, however, has written that climatologists “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change,” and has voted to eliminate EPA limits on greenhouse gases.

Clearly abortion is just the tip of the divide on the GOP ticket.

If Romney and Ryan win, which policies can we expect to see? Before American voters decide Obama or Romney, the Republican candidacy must be clarified. Is a vote for Romney-Ryan a vote for Romney or Ryan?