Corrections: Ryan did not vote to ban abortion in all cases nor did he engage in insider trading

posted at 9:37 pm on August 13, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

If this is anything like 2008, this may become a regular feature.

National Review‘s Ramesh Ponnuru flagged a Buzzfeed report on Ryan’s record on “women’s issues” (apparently, unqualified support of Obamacare counts as one now, too):

The first item: “He supports the Sanctity of Human Life Act” (emphasis in original). Odell wrote that the bill “seeks to ban all abortions, including in instances of rape and incest.” Ryan may, for all I know, believe that abortion should be illegal with exceptions only to save a mother’s life. But has he really co-sponsored a bill to effect this policy? No. The bill declares that fertilization marks the beginning of a human life and then “affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.” In other words, it doesn’t ban anything: It merely affirms that legislatures have the authority to protect unborn life. If Odell wishes to argue that a legislature moved by the convictions of the bill must, to be consistent, ban abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest, she can do so. It’s not in the bill.

The piece, by Amy Odell, has since been corrected. It now reads:

1. He supports the “Sanctity of Human Life Act.”
Ryan was among the 62 representatives sponsoring the bill, introduced in January of last year and declaring that “life begins with fertilization.” The bill defines life as beginning at conception and give states the right to ban all abortions*, including in instances of rape and incest…

*Correction: The Sanctity of Human Life Act gives states the right to ban abortions, without exception; it does not ban abortions, as a previous version of this item stated.

No. 5 on the list is also very misleading, suggesting Ryan “supports a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage based on personal beliefs,” by which Odell means he supports the radical notion that religious organizations should be able to keep the religious and economic freedom to leave free birth control out of their health care offerings— a right that was pretty noncontroversial until three months ago when Odell and the rest of the press decided free birth control was a human right.

I wanted to flag the misreporting of the Sanctity of Human Life Act because I’ve heard several TV pundits go down this road, charging Ryan with extreme extremism on these issues, and this is a mischaracterization that will be happy to find its way into the cable-news bloodstream now that Odell has offered it up.

A helpful counterpoint for this accusation is the fact that opposing an act that would make sure infants born alive after abortion attempts would not subsequently be left to die is pretty darned extreme.

Matthew Yglesias was more gracious in his correction of a charge that Rep. Paul Ryan may have benefited from insider knowledge when trading bank stocks in 2008. Credit to him for leaving the original item available, struck through, with an apology for jumping to conclusions:

Let me apologize. I originally had a too-credulous item here linking to a piece at The Richmonder alleging that Paul Ryan has sold bank shares after a closed door meeting with Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke on the financial crisis in 2008. As Eric Platt explains he certainly seems to have sold the shares on the same day as the meeting, but the meeting happened in the evening by which time the markets would have been closed. One can perhaps construct a scenario by which the Richmonder’s theory of the case holds up, but they don’t have the goods and I shouldn’t have passed their analysis on with no qualification and so little scrutiny of my own.

As Brad DeLong writes, for one reason or another Ryan did quite a lot of trading of individual bank stocks in 2008 so the timing of this particularly transaction isn’t particularly noteworthy when put in that context. For posterity’s sake the original item is below now in strikethrough.

Nonetheless, Jim Geraghty does the legwork on batting down this claim, which will likely surface again.

Update: TPM joins in the debunking of the insider trading story.

Credit for front-page photo to photosteve101.


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