UPDATE: Ryan co-sponsored abortion legislation with Akin - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UDPATE: Ryan co-sponsored abortion legislation with Akin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Missouri election law deadline to quit the state's U.S. Senate race passed, and Republican Congressman Todd Akin was still on ballot.

Rep. Akin had been under intense pressure to quit the race since Sunday, when he told a St. Louis TV interviewer that in cases of "legitimate rape", women's bodies have a way of shutting a pregnancy down.

Rep. Akin's decision to stay in the race could be problematic for Congressman and Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan (R-Janesville).

Rep. Ryan joined GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and hundreds of other Republicans in condemning Akin's statement.

But Rep. Ryan may have to continue answering questions about co-sponsoring some controversial abortion legislation with Rep. Akin.

That topic turned what may have been a very tame pro-life rally in at James Madison Park on Tuesday afternoon, into a heated affair.

Pro-choice advocates shouted "Akin, Akin, Akin!" repeatedly at pro-life speakers.

One of those speakers was Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R-Wisconsin), who joined Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) and GOP Senate Nominee Tommy Thompson in calling for Akin to quit the race.

"I think that the comments made by Todd Akin are abhorrent, they are insulting, they are disgusting, reprehensible, unacceptable," said Lt. Gov. Kleefisch.

"Its not only offensive, its not fact driven and its a horrible thing to say," agreed pro-choice advocate Michael Dickman.

But, the pro-choice and pro-life factions don't agree when it comes to Paul Ryan and the abortion legislation he co-sponsored with Akin.

"I mean, that's basically the official position of their party and its also Paul Ryan's position," said pro-choice advocate Bill Dunn.

Protesters like Dunn say that because of House Resolution 5939, a 2010 piece of legislation designed to ban all taxpayer funded abortions, except in cases of what the authors defined as "forcible rape."

The resolution failed and that language was changed to "rape" in 2011, when the bill was re-introduced as HR 3.

But Lt. Gov. Kleefisch differentiated the language in HR 5939 from the language Akin used in his comments.

"Well, I think there is a way to have a more forcible rape, the same way there are different types of assault," said Lt. Gov. Kleefisch. 

As the Lieutenant Governor and the rest of the Republican Party draw distinctions between that Ryan-supported legislation and the current controversy surrounding Akin, pro-choice advocates say there is no difference at all.

"I just saw a headline that said, 'Todd Akin says what most Republicans are thinking, but won't say it,' said Bill Dunn, who agreed with that headline.

"Its been ratcheted up, no doubt about it," said Julaine Appling, Director of the pro-life group Wisconsin Family Action. "One side will play it and the other side will try to downplay it."

Paul Ryan also co-sponsored the 2011 "Sanctity of Human Life" Act with Rep. Akin, which would have established that personhood begins at conception.

None of the Ryan-Akin bills made it through the U.S. Senate.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- If Republican Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri) chooses to stay in the Missouri U.S. Senate race, it could result in big distraction for GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, of Janesville.

Akin made controversial comments about rape during an interview with a St. Louis television station Sunday, saying that in cases of "legitimate rape," women's bodies have ways of shutting a pregnancy down.

GOP leaders across the country, including Ryan and Mitt Romney, have criticized Akin for those remarks, while others are pressuring him to get out of the race.

Under Missouri election law, Akin must get out of the race by 5 p.m. on Tuesday if the Republicans want to put forth another candidate to run against vulnerable Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Ryan has already been linked to Akin, due to their co-sponsorship on pro-life pieces of legislation, one of which included the words "forcible rape."

Ryan and Akin co-sponsored House Resolution 5939 in 2010, which was a bill designed to ban taxpayer funded abortions.

That resolution included language that said the ban would not include pregnancies that were the result of forcible rape.

The resolution never made it to a full vote in the House of Representatives, and when the bill was re-introduced one year later as House Resolution 3, the word "forcible" was removed.  That bill passed the House, but stalled in the Senate.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will talk with pro-life and pro-choice leaders about Paul Ryan co-sponsoring that legislation with Todd Akin, and will have live reports on 27 News at 5 and 6.

 

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