It's not just the definition of "rape" that Paul Ryan and Todd Akin have sought to limit through legislative means. An earlier version of the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act they co-sponsored would also have limited exemptions from the law for victims of incest.
H.R. 3 is best known as a piece of aggressive anti-abortion legislation co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin, in which the only rape victims exempt from the law's abortion restrictions would be those who had been subjected to "forcible rape." However, as the Guardian's Ana Marie Cox pointed out on Monday's The Last Word, the same incarnation of that bill which included the "forcible rape" language also would have narrowed the definition of incest. H.R. 5939, introduced in July 2010, included exemptions only for "an act of forcible rape, or incest with a minor"—not incest in general.
That version of the bill had 186 co-sponsors, including Ryan, Akin, and 25 Democrats.
The Last Word host Lawrence O'Donnell was flabbergasted. "What are they thinking?" he said. "It's like, I think I get what they're thinking when they do this stuff, and then they come up with something like that."
Ryan has defended the "forcible rape" language in H.R. 5939 by referring to it as "stock language." He does not appear to have yet commented on the "incest with a minor" language.