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Stances on Abortion Complicate Ryan’s Bid

Tim Ryan’s advocacy for and against abortion rights makes his Nancy Pelosi leadership challenge tricky…

Tim Ryan Abortion

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) wants to become House Democrats’ leader, but in order to unseat Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), he needs to convince his congressional colleagues he’s the right man for the job.

That may be a tall order for the Eastern Ohio congressman thanks to one particularly tough issue: abortion.

First elected to the House in 2002, Ryan’s record on abortion is a bit mixed, with votes both for and against partial-birth abortion bans. But by and large, Ryan began his career in Congress as a seemingly proud pro-life Democrat.

As recently as 2009, Ryan penned an op-ed that included the line, “I am a pro-life member of Congress” and opposed including federal funding for abortion in ObamaCare legislation.

But in 2015, Ryan changed course, claiming in yet another op-ed that his position on abortion had “evolved.”

“Today, I am a 41-year-old father and husband whose feelings on this issue have changed. I have come a long way since being a single, 26-year-old state senator, and I am not afraid to say that my position has evolved as my experiences have broadened, deepened and become more personal. And while I have deep respect for people on both sides of this conversation, I would be abandoning my own conscience and judgment if I held a position that I no longer believed appropriate.”

Interestingly, the move was not without controversy. Ryan’s announcement coincided with stories that indicated he may have been planning a challenge to Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). While that challenge never materialized, Ryan was forced to defend his 180 on abortion as anything other than a politically calculated move.

Publicly, Pelosi is playing it cool with regards to Ryan’s candidacy for minority leader. But behind the scenes, it’s issues like this one that her team will be circulating with Democratic caucus members if they sense she may be at all vulnerable.