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The Real Paul Ryan

The public rejects the Republicans' attack on abortion

Aug. 30, 2012
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Lost in the uproar over Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's ignorant comments about pregnancy and rape is the fact that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, agrees with Akin's position on outlawing all abortions that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared to be constitutional.

Also lost in the uproar is the fact that the public overwhelmingly rejects the Republicans' hard-line stance on abortion.

According to a new Public Policy Polling (PPP) report, 75% of those polled would oppose a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, with no exemptions. Only 13% of those questioned support such a ban.

And while banning all abortions, without exemptions for rape or incest, has been codified in the Republican Party's national platform, PPP found that a mere 20% of Republicans polled support that position, with 62% opposing it. Only 25% of self-identified conservative voters support the ban, with 55% opposing it, PPP found.

Those numbers mirror a new CNN poll, which found that 88% of those questioned believe that abortion should be legal when a woman's life is endangered; 83% support abortion when a woman's health is endangered; and 83% support allowing a woman to choose an abortion if she is pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

"Paul Ryan is very far-right on these issues," said Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. "He's out of touch with what women need and what the mainstream believes is appropriate."

Ryan: Rape Is 'Another Method of Conception'

Paul Ryan has a long history in Congress of opposing legal abortions:

Early in his career, Ryan took to the floor of the House of Representatives to denounce long-respected exemptions for abortions to save the health of a pregnant woman.

Ryan and Akin co-sponsored a "personhood" bill, which would grant legal rights to fertilized eggs and therefore ban all abortions and jeopardize in-vitro fertilization, some contraception methods and embryonic stem cell research.

Just last year, Ryan supported a bill that would allow physicians and other health professionals to refuse to treat a woman who requires an abortion to save her life.

Ryan—along with Akin—also introduced the term "forcible rape" into the legislative record when he sought to ban taxpayer funding for abortions—as if there is such a thing as "non-forcible rape."

Ryan has told the press that he's proud of his pro-life record. But, not surprisingly, Ryan has been trying to distance himself from his radical stance on a woman's constitutional right to control her own fertility. Ryan, echoing President Obama, has now said that "rape is rape."

Yet Ryan has also said that rape is just another "method of conception."

Jeopardizing Health Protections for Women

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin's Atkinson noted that in addition to sponsoring bills that would outlaw all abortions, Ryan's call to repeal the Affordable Care Act would also repeal its female-friendly provisions. The new federal law bans insurance companies from charging women higher premiums just because they are women; ends the long-standing insurance practice of denying women coverage because of "pre-existing conditions" such as an abnormal pap test, a past pregnancy or a Caesarian section; and eliminates co-pays for cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control.

Ryan's budget also dismantles Medicaid programs, jeopardizing Wisconsin's effective family planning program, which serves almost 70,000 low-income patients annually.

"To say that the Romney-Ryan ticket is not good for women is an understatement," Atkinson said. "Their presidency could be devastating for women."

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