As Republicans and Democrats continue to condemn Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin for his controversial remarks on rape, Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-7th District) is distancing himself from his role in co-sponsoring a bill that critics say would have redefined rape.
He's also trying to correct the notion that any vote was taken to do that.
H.R. 3, which was introduced at the beginning of 2011, sought to prohibit federal money from being spent on abortions. Duffy was one of 227 co-sponsors. The original bill provided an exemption for victims of "forcible rape." That language was later changed to "rape," and the House passed the bill 251-175. The Senate has not voted on it.
A Newsline 9 viewer wanted to know if Duffy, who has repeatedly condemned Akin's comments, "stands by his vote…in HR3 to redefine rape?"
"There's been no vote in the House that would redefine anything," said Duffy in a satellite interview with Newsline 9 from Tampa, Florida, where he's attending the Republican National Convention. "There was some pro-life legislation that was discussed. But Republicans haven't taken up any vote that would have changed the definition of rape."
Duffy is correct. The bill passed by the House in May 2011 did not include the term "forcible rape." No vote was taken on the bill with that language intact.
Still, Duffy's name was attached to a bill that would have changed the definition of the crime as it relates to some women seeking abortions.
"Our current Congressman supports redefining rape," said Pat Kreitlow, a Democrat running against Duffy in the 7th Congressional district. "Rape is rape. The government should stay out of medical offices and not insert itself between a women and a doctor."
Despite the original language in the bill, Duffy rejects any suggestion Republicans sought to redefine rape.
"That's just political maneuvering by others on the other side," he said.
Newsline 9 reached out to Duffy's office to ask if he supported the term "forcible rape" being removed from the bill. A spokesman said Duffy "supported the bill as passed."