Claim: Paul Ryan once said that “rape is just another method of conception.”

MIXTURE

Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2015]

Did Paul Ryan say rape is just another form of conception? There is s FB meme going around saying just that.

Origins: On 23 August 2012, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan (who was then the Republican nominee for Vice President on a ticket headed by Mitt Romney) sat for an interview with Tennessee-Virginia station WJHL in which he discussed his views on topics such as abortion. During the course of that interview, Ryan suggested that he would favor pro-life regulations that would prohibit elective abortions even in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, as “the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life” (although he also suggested that he accepted the rape and incest exceptions advocated by his running mate):

WJHL reporter Josh Smith: “We want to exactly where you stand. Specifically where you stand when it comes to rape, and when it comes to the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she’s raped?”

Paul Ryan: “I’m very proud of my pro-life record and I’ve always adopted the idea that the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life. But let’s remember, I’m joining the Romney-Ryan ticket. And the president makes policy. And the president, in this case the future President Mitt Romney, has exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother, which is a vast improvement of where we are right now.”

In October 2015, shortly after Ryan announced that he would be seeking the position of Speaker of the House, references to the viewpoint he expressed in this interview were boiled down to the bite-sized meme shown above. Ryan never literally said that “rape is just another method of conception,” nor did he either demean the seriousness of rape or proclaim it to be morally equivalent to any other form of conception, but he did once suggest that the method of conception is irrelevant to the definition of life (and therefore, by extension, to laws regarding abortion).

Last updated: 1 November 2015

Originally published: 1 November 2015