Paul Ryan offered few details on most issues of domestic and foreign policy in his debate with Vice President Biden, but there was one on which he had both a clear position and a clear path: women’s ability to control their pregnancies.
While women had mostly feared the advent of a Ryan/Romney supreme court that might overturn Roe v. Wade, Ryan let the nation know that his administration would also pursue a congressional strategy to outlaw abortion as well as end federal funding for contraception (already outlawed for abortion) and, by overturning Obamacare, eliminate the guaranteed insurance coverage of contraception and other reproductive health services.
This actually should come as no surprise as, while Ryan would like to be known these days for his economic policies, the only issue on which he has consistently put forward bills in Congress is that of reproductive choice. According to The Progressive, “Of the 81 bills Ryan has sponsored or co-sponsored in this congressional session, only 3 have dealt with the economy,” while 10 have as their aim the control of women’s bodies.
In fact, last night’s position was somewhat moderate as, during his 13 years in Congress, Ryan has voted 59 times to support legislation that ranges from declaring a fetus a human being with full legal rights to allowing hospitals to refuse treatment to a woman needing post-abortion care – even if she will die without it.
Ryan is not alone – his bills are the stock-in-trade of a slew of republicans, from California’s Issa and Missouri’s Todd Akin to Illinois’ Walsh, Roskam and Schilling. In fact, during this congressional session – where the most bills put forth by Republicans were about women’s health – each bill received the unanimous vote of House Republicans.
And as in the congress, so to in the 26 state legislatures now under republican control, in which more than 1000 anti-choice bills have been introduced, and many passed, over the past two years.
While they may hide their positions under the cloak of religious freedom, we should be clear – it is about anything but. No one is telling Catholic women that they must choose abortion or use contraception (although all estimates say that 98 percent of Catholic women of child-bearing age who have ever had sexhave) but the law does say that the vast majority of non-Catholics who use or work for Catholic hospitals and schools should not have to give up their religious freedom and beliefs (nor their right to full health care) in order to keep their jobs.
Nor are there any Republican-sponsored bills to compel Christian Scientists to vaccinate their children or bills that outlaw vasectomies. It is somewhat ironic and important to remember that this is the party that, in 1960, railed against the possibility of a John F. Kennedy presidency, saying that it would violate the nation’s ethos and open the door for Vatican control of our nation.
What it is about is Paul Ryan and the other republicans attempting to impose their personal religious views on the rest of us – imperiling women’s health and the separation of church and state on which this nation was founded. Women comprise approximately 58 percent of America’s vote. They can determine the fate of this election and, in doing so, will determine their own.