Over the last two years, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan has become the face of the new GOP. He is author of the "Ryan Budget," a draconian plan touted by the GOP that would essentially undermine or completely eliminate social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and Social Security, as well as transfer those "savings" to pay for a new and even more unequal tax code that would greatly benefit those at the top. Ryan's "fiscal conservatism"--some would call it radicalism--has earned him criticism from the left and fed a growing push on the right for him to become Mitt Romney's running mate.
With so much focus on Ryan's fiscal austerity (except when it comes to tax cuts for the rich), his extreme position on women's reproductive rights has faded into the background. Like almost all House Republicans, he has voted in lockstep with his party to deny women access to safe abortion care, contraception, breast exams, and other critical preventive care; repeal the Afforable Care Act; and de-fund Planned Parenthood.
Yet during election years, he has called for backing off on "divisive" issues. "We will agree to disagree on those issues," Ryan said in September of 2010 on CNBC. "But let’s rally around the tallest pole in our tent: fiscal conservatism, economic liberty."
Of course, that was directly before re-election. Just a few months earlier he was telling The Weekly Standard's John McCormack, "I’m as pro-life as a person gets. You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life."
In fact, to Ryan, anti-choice positions are just as essential to his political leanings as his fiscal views. "I write as an unswerving proponent of both free market choice and the natural right to life," Ryan wrote for the Heritage Institute. "It is unfortunate that 'life' and 'choice' were ever separated and viewed as alternatives."
I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect. I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” The freedom to choose is pointless for someone who does not have the freedom to live. So the right of “choice” of one human being cannot trump the right to “life” of another. How long can we sustain our commitment to freedom if we continue to deny the very foundation of freedom—life—for the most vulnerable human beings?
Ryan used his anti-choice views to support the Stupak amendment in the Affordable Care Act, which allows states to deny abortion coverage in health care exchanges and, in the case of some states, to ban coverage in private insurance as well.
Mr. Speaker, this is perhaps the worst bill I have seen come to the floor in my 11 years of serving in Congress. And what would make this bill worse, is if we break with the longstanding law of preventing abortions from being funded with taxpayer dollars.
For those of us who support the protection of and the sanctity of life, the only vote, the right vote, the vote to keep a clean conscience, is a yes vote for the Stupak amendment
And like many of his Republican cohorts, Ryan holds a perfect rating with the National Right to Life Committee.
Although Ryan's fiscal policies would disproportionately harm women, who have a larger reliance on the social safety net programs and health care programs that Ryan wants to kill, his positions on reproductive health are just as dangerous.