Rep. Paul Ryan has taken more heat than most after it was revealed that he co-sponsored legislation that used the term, “forcible rape.”
But Ryan, along with Missouri Rep. Todd Akin – who has been hammered for days over his “legitimate rape” remarks – were only two of a number of co-sponsors on a House bill that would have limited the use of taxpayer funding for abortions.
House Resolution 5939, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” was introduced July 29, 2010. An amendment to the bill would have prohibited the use of taxpayer funding for abortions except for a few exceptions, such as: “If the pregnancy is the result of an act of forcible rape, or incest with a minor….” (emphasis ours).
Before H.R. 5939 died (“referred to committee”), it garnered 186 co-sponsors – including 10 Pennsylvania Representatives.
They were, in order of district: Reps. Kathleen Dahlkemper, Glenn Thompson, Jim Gerlach, Bill Shuster, Christopher Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Mark Critz, Joseph Pitts, Tim Murphy and Todd Platts.
Dahlkemper, Carney and Kanjorski have since been voted out of office.
By the time the bill was reintroduced in the 112th Congress as H.R. 3 (where it notable lacked the word “forcible” – dropped before the bill was voted on) it had even more co-sponsors – at 227 – and passed the House May 4, 2011.
This version of the bill had 12 sponsors from Pennsylvania – seven of whom voted for the first bill, too.
Of the remaining five, four of them – Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Butler), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks), Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) and Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) – had not yet been elected and could not have voted for the bill.
The one remaining representative was Rep. Tim Holden (D-Allegheny). He has since lost a Democratic primary and will not seek reelection this fall. He was the only one who did not vote for the first bill, but then cast his vote when it was reintroduced in this Congress.
Calls to his office Friday seeking comment were not returned.
But that leaves the seven who voted for both: Reps. Thompson (R-Centre), Gerlach (R-Chester), Shuster (R-Blair), Critz (D-Cambria), Pitts (R-Chester), Murphy (R-Allegheny) and Platts (R-York).
The legislation, and bills similar to it, have been introduced regularly for years and have often garnered bipartisan support.
But what PoliticsPA wondered was, did any of them regret voting for the first bill, or have their feelings changed since Akin’s regrettable remarks sparked a firestorm?
Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester):
“All this legislation does is to make clear something that a majority of the people who I represent in the 6th District support,” Gerlach said in an email. “That is: federal funds should not be used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Throughout my entire career in public service, I have always been honest about being pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.”
Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria):
“Congressman Critz doesn’t believe that taxpayer funds should be used to pay for abortions. He absolutely disagrees with the notion of ‘forcible rape,’ which is why he fought successfully to have it removed from the bill before the House voted on this legislation,” Critz’s Press Secretary Matt Mazonkey said in an email.
“In regards to Congressman Akin, his comments were inexcusable and disgusting.”
Calls to the remaining representatives were not returned Friday.