What is Chris Matthews Talking About?

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I’ve had Hardball on in the background for the past hour (I know, I know), and I just have to say that sometimes Chris Matthews stuns me. The topic was Todd Akin, and Matthews kept insisting that there was no difference — none, zero, nada — between Akin’s infamous reflections on “legitimate rape” and Paul Ryan’s view that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape and incest. He ended up badgering his guests over and over to admit that the two things were identical.

WTF? I assume Matthews is right about Ryan’s view (though I’m not sure if Ryan has ever explicitly clarified this), but what does that have to do with Akin? I don’t have any reason to think that Ryan believes some rapes are “legitimate” and others aren’t. He simply believes that abortion is murder, and it’s murder even if the fetus is the result of rape or incest. This is an extreme pro-life view, but it’s hardly a fringe view.

Does anyone have any idea what Matthews was talking about?

UPDATE: The consensus in comments seems to be that Matthews wasn’t referring to Ryan’s view that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape and incest. Instead, he was referring to a bill that Ryan and Akin (and most of the GOP caucus) cosponsored last year that would have narrowed Medicaid funding for abortion in rape cases. The legislation would have restricted Medicaid funding only to cases of “forcible rape.”

The theory here is that “legitimate” is just another word for “forcible,” and Ryan agrees with Akin that there’s some kind of distinction here. Unless I missed something, Matthews didn’t actually say this, but I suppose he might have meant it and just forgot to say the actual words. Or something.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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