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Paul Ryan and Reproductive Rights

As journalists and pundits dig into Paul Ryan’s record in the House, it’s looking worse and worse for women’s rights. Ryan isn’t just your run of the mill Republican when it comes to reproductive rights, he’s on the ultra far right of the party. If he had his way, even the most popular forms of birth control would be illegal. Yes, you heard that right.

Ryan is one of the sponsors of a federal personhood bill, which would declare that any fertilized ovum “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” The bill would not just ban abortions, it would ban hormonal birth control — that is, the pill — as well, because such contraception works by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. And there are no exceptions even for rape and incest. That idea is so extreme that it was rejected soundly even by ultra-conservative Mississippi two years ago. It’s been rejected all over the country by wide margins. It’s wildly unpopular, even among Republicans.

But that’s just the beginning. He actually goes even further than that. Remember that terrible Virginia bill that would force any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive ultrasound even if their doctor says it’s medically unnecessary? Ryan is one of the sponsors of a bill, the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, to do that on the federal level. This, again, puts him on the furthest right wing fringe of his own party.

Mitt Romney has tried to have it both ways on this issue. He was pro-choice — he once told a story about a family friend who died from a botched abortion to explain why he was pro-choice and said “You will never hear me waver on that” — until he decided to run for president because he knew he couldn’t win the Republican nomination without sounding stridently anti-choice. So last year he said he “absolutely” supported a personhood amendment.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    It’s wildly unpopular, even among Republicans.

    Right. Now watch, the right wing doublethinkers are going to claim that it doesn’t matter ’cause the President can’t just pass laws, and at the same time screeching that Obama will become even more of a dictator.

  2. d cwilson says

    So last year he said he “absolutely” supported a personhood amendment.

    Yeah, but that was during the primary, before the Etch-a-Sketch got shook up again. Who knows what his position on the personhood amendment is this week?

  3. StevoR says

    Remember that terrible Virginia bill that would force any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive ultrasound State sponsored mandatory rape even if their doctor says it’s medically unnecessary?

    FIFY.

  4. StevoR says

    @3. d cwilson asked rhetorically:

    Yeah, but that was during the primary, before the Etch-a-Sketch got shook up again. Who knows what his position on the personhood amendment is this week?

    RMoney’s political positions are like a bar of white soap on a series of slopes of greased ice.

    Durn hard to know where to spot and even harder to grasp and hold down. Also very unpalatable and cold and slippery.

    What matters is what he’d do as POTUS o’course. I’d rather not know for sure. Doubt it’d be good.

  5. rebeccamad gastronomer says

    because such contraception works by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.

    I really would like people to be very clear on the science here: Some very few scientists think that maybe sometimes it’s possible for hormonal birth control to work by preventing implantation. How it really works, though, is by preventing ovulation.

  6. keithb says

    Someone clearly made a mistake. Somehow Romney picked *Rick Santorum’s* running mate.

    Makes you wonder who would be an equivalent pick of Santorum’s? Olympia Snow?

  7. says

    I just don’t understand how it is that the republicans don’t lose every voter with a uterus, right then and there. I mean, seriously! I was sitting on an airplane next to a nice lady and somehow we got to talking about politics (It might have been because I was reading Saul Alinsky… and she assumed I was trying to get to “know the enemy” or something…) I listened to her for a while and gently asked her, “How can you be a woman and a republican? I mean, seriously, why would you vote for a party that consistently tries to disempower you?” She was stunned and several people in nearby seats giggled out loud. Turns out that fox news doesn’t teach a snappy comeback to that question, yet, so she was pretty much speechless.

  8. gshelley says

    Mitt Romney has tried to have it both ways on this issue. He was pro-choice — he once told a story about a family friend who died from a botched abortion to explain why he was pro-choice and said “You will never hear me waver on that”

    Didnt he explain this by saying his previous position was a purely hypothetical one, and that once he was governor, he gained a more personal understanding of the issue and switched sides?

  9. hieropants says

    Yeah, hormonal birth control works by preventing ovulation. A side effect of continual hormone pill use is that the uterine lining doesn’t build up like it would otherwise; scientists have speculated that the thinner lining might prevent implantation, but there isn’t any actual evidence that it does – it’s just a line they include in the instruction packet to cover their asses because they don’t know for sure.

  10. eric says

    rebecca, hieropants, do you really think that matters? If tomorrow’s science absolutely, with 100% certainty demonstrated that no implantations were ever prevented, how do you think folk like Ryan would react? Do you think they would:
    (A) Find some other reason to be opposed to women-controlled contraception (and other measures that empower women to control their own sexuality), or
    (B) Become supporters of the pill?

    I think the smart money is on (A).

  11. mythbri says

    Looks like we’re going to have to start locking up women by the millions, then, since roughly half of all early pregnancies spontaneously and naturally abort themselves. Let’s start building more prisons.

  12. Jordan Genso says

    d cwilson @3

    Yeah, but that was during the primary, before the Etch-a-Sketch got shook up again.

    To be honest, I was expecting to see more shaking of the Etch-a-Sketch than we have. I’ve not really noticed Romney even attempting to swing back to the center. Sure, he’s not currently repeating his extreme positions on the campaign trail, but they are still his most recent statements, and therefore his current position.

    I wonder if the Etch-a-Sketch comment has forced them to hesitate on their move to the middle, or if the comment was designed to give “moderates” a false sense of ease even though he hasn’t actually moderated his positions. Until I see otherwise, his policies are the ones he stated during the primary.

  13. skepticmd says

    I agree with rebecca and hieropants that the clarification is quite necessary.

    Additionally, I wonder if this would have any effect on treatment of ectopic pregnancy. Since the “pregnancy” would be treated with methotrexate or, in more serious conditions, surgery, it would, in effect, be terminating a “person.”

    I think it creates quite a sticky situation out of a dangerous but treatable condition. Can a doctor be charged with “murder” if he or she terminates a “person” in a medical procedure that has been used for quite some time to save countless women’s lives?

    Sorry for the excessive quotation, but many of those words can take on a whole spectrum of meaning :)

  14. says

    ” If he had his way, even the most popular forms of birth control would be illegal.”

    so that means that he’s either celebate, gay, only does anal/ oral with his wife, or has a WHOLE lot more kids than we know of

  15. says

    The message that really needs to be spread ( I don’t know why it isn’t self evident) is how men benefit JUST AS MUCH as women regarding women’s access to birth control. No one can convince me that the majority of men regard sex as nothing more than an end to babymaking

  16. raven says

    I just don’t understand how it is that the republicans don’t lose every voter with a uterus, right then and there.

    I don’t know or understand it either.

    It’s one of those mysteries like where do socks disappear to when you do the laundry.

    In times past there has been marked gender disparity in voting. Women elected Bill Clinton twice.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    … any fertilized ovum “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” The bill … would ban hormonal birth control … because such contraception works by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.

    Biomedical considerations raised above aside, this is a non sequitur. None of the rest of us have any Constitutional right to implant in a uterus; we don’t even have a right to bump against a cervix without an invitation.

  18. whheydt says

    I keep waiting for a woman in a state with a “personhood” law to file an unlawful detainer (that’s the action used to evict someone from rental property) action against an fetus. In California, the time to complete unlawful detainer ranges from 3 to 30 days, depending on how its done…

  19. Chiroptera says

    raven, #19: In times past there has been marked gender disparity in voting. Women elected Bill Clinton twice.

    When you look at the disparity, it seems clear to me that a lot of households have split their vote. What I don’t understand, then, is how these marriages stay intact.

    I mean, why would a woman stay with a man when her vote shows that it is clear to her that her husband’s vote shows he has no respect for her as an equal human being?

  20. typecaster says

    I’ve not really noticed Romney even attempting to swing back to the center.

    And you won’t. If he tries, he’ll lose his base – the Tea Party right don’t trust him now. Let him argue more moderate positions on any issue, and way too many of them will vote Constitutional (sic)* Party. The recent uproar about a mild reference to Romneycare in Massachusetts shows what the stakes are for his campaign. Since he wants to be re-elected, his (ideally hypothetical) administration will look a lot like Bush’s, only without the humility and well thought out policies.

    * Not misspelled, just mis-named.

  21. matty1 says

    any fertilized ovum “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”

    All of them? I can’t help seeing this as a call the lower the voting age to -9 months.

  22. says

    So Ryan supports a form of state-mandated high-tech “corrective rape” under proper sanitary hospital conditions. I guess that makes him a little better than some Serbian bigots and American lesbophobes. Not that that’s saying much…

  23. hieropants says

    rebecca, hieropants, do you really think that matters? If tomorrow’s science absolutely, with 100% certainty demonstrated that no implantations were ever prevented, how do you think folk like Ryan would react? Do you think they would:
    (A) Find some other reason to be opposed to women-controlled contraception (and other measures that empower women to control their own sexuality), or
    (B) Become supporters of the pill?

    I think the smart money is on (A).

    It matters because it’s incorrect and people need to be accurately informed. I know they would choose (A), because they have already chosen (A) and called it “religious liberty”. But the more falsehoods and misconceptions there are surrounding the contraception debate, the easier it is to get sidetracked with irrelevant arguments and the harder it is to get people to understand the issue.

    And quite frankly, it does matter whether it works by blocking implantation. I’m not going to believe for a second that a single-celled zygote is the same as a full human being, but that argument is going to resonate with other people whether it should or not, and in those cases we need to be very clear about what is actually happening when people use hormone pills or IUDs. The fundamentalists won’t care, but there are a lot of people who lie on various points on the reproductive-rights continuum that we need to have on our side for this.

  24. says

    Ryan’s been married 14 years and only has three children, not exactly a quiverfull of warriors for the KKKristian ReiKKK. Are we to believe that he/his wife do not practice some form of birth control. Why, yes, of course we are; if he did such a thing it would be hypocritical of him to suggest that others access to birth control be curtailed or forbidden.

    This:

    “His father’s death provided Ryan with Social Security benefits until his 18th birthday, which he saved to pay for his education at Miami University of Ohio.”

    is from Wiki. Assuming it’s true (and I will wait for someone to debunk it before I DON’T assume it’s true) it looks like Paulie Wingnutz has been a leeeeetle bit hypocritical in other areas. Fucking asshole.

  25. rebeccamad gastronomer says

    rebecca, hieropants, do you really think that matters?

    To them? No. To us? Very much. I care about accurate science, and my general impression is that Ed does, too. It’s not about whether it will change their minds, it’s about being correct and accurate — just like with those out-of-context and completely spurious Founding Fathers quotes.

    Additionally, I wonder if this would have any effect on treatment of ectopic pregnancy. Since the “pregnancy” would be treated with methotrexate or, in more serious conditions, surgery, it would, in effect, be terminating a “person.”

    It sure does in other countries. Women die of ectopic pregnancies because of it.

  26. Michael Heath says

    Jordan Genso:

    To be honest, I was expecting to see more shaking of the Etch-a-Sketch than we have. I’ve not really noticed Romney even attempting to swing back to the center. Sure, he’s not currently repeating his extreme positions on the campaign trail, but they are still his most recent statements, and therefore his current position.

    An economist-spokesperson for the Romney campaign was on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show a couple of weeks ago conceding Keynesian principles, including the inability to cut gov’t spending in the downside of a business cycle and the need for stimulative spending in that same downside. And just the other day Romney answered a question on what a Romney-government would be doing that included heavy spending on infrastructure and other stimulative efforts by the government, but also an effort to further deregulate Wall Street.

  27. DaveL says

    This goes way further than banning the pill, even without considering ectopic pregnancy. Consider: the pill is conjectured to reduce the chance of implantation. A whole host of things are known to reduce the chance of implantation and/or increase the chance of spontaneous abortion – things like horseback riding, or coffee.

    Speaking of spontaneous abortion, current law where I live requires that the medical examiner perform an autopsy any time a person dies while not under a doctor’s care.

    Then there’s the problem of identical twins. Are they two half-persons? Do we designate one of them as a person and the other as some kind of byproduct?

    Personhood amendments are not just bad because they seek to ban abortion. They are bad because they are bat. Shit. Insane.

  28. kermit. says

    eric: If tomorrow’s science absolutely, with 100% certainty demonstrated that no implantations were ever prevented, how do you think folk like Ryan would react?

    Trick question. They’d just keep repeating it, like they have been repeating all the other debunked lies for the last couple years.

    raven: It’s one of those mysteries like where do socks disappear to when you do the laundry.

    Socks are the larval forms of coat hangers.

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