The Ryan Reaction: This Election Is Now About “Choice”

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Analysis Politics

The Ryan Reaction: This Election Is Now About “Choice”

Robin Marty

This election is about choice.  A big choice.

“This election is looking more like the choice election Obama wanted than the economic referendum Romney wanted.”

When Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein tweeted that statement, he was talking about the clear differences between presidential tickets. Klein noted that the 2012 race would no longer be so much a referendum on Obama’s policies, but a choice between Obama’s vision versus the Republican Party’s economic plan to continue to increase wealth for the richest in our country on the backs of the poor and middle class.

But purposeful or not, Klein’s reaction the selection of Wisconsin GOP Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick is actually correct in another way — this election is about choice. It’s about a woman’s ability to control her body, and a family’s ability to decide when to have or not have children. It’s about birth control, abortion, and access to health care.

The Presidential campaign knows it. “FACT: Paul Ryan would ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest,” said the presidential twitter account. “FACT: Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill that would ban many common forms of birth control, including certain birth control pills,” they followed up an hour later.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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Reproductive rights groups were quick to point out that with the addition of Ryan, Romney was sending a clear signal that a woman and a family’s right to make medical decisions for themselves was not important to him. “I know I shouldn’t be shocked that Mitt Romney would choose a man in Paul Ryan who has a vision of turning the clock back decades for women, from dismantling Medicare and Social Security that our mothers and grandmothers depend on to denying coverage of birth control and cancer screenings for women across the nation,” responded EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock via email statement.

“Women voters all across America waking up to this news this morning now have more reason than ever before to ensure that we return Barack Obama and Joe Biden to the White House with a Senate and House full of prochoice Democratic women who will move us forward, not backwards.”

Women should beware, because they are the targets or the disproportionate casualties in virtually every policy Romney and Ryan propose,” a statement from Terry O’Neill, President of NOW, agreed.

A Romney-Ryan administration would support anti-abortion efforts like “personhood” amendments, totally defund Planned Parenthood and all federally-funded family planning services, and use government to sanction religious opposition to birth control. Their vision is a threat to women’s rights, public health and the economic security of the vast majority of people in the United States — all for the benefit of the most fortunate among us.

Anti-choice groups are already rejoicing in a pick that proves that the Republican ticket is ready to declare fertilized eggs and more deserving of rights than women. Americans Unite For Life writes in favor of the choice, stating:

In a February 2009 op-ed, Congressman Ryan stated that “[W]e need to protect [unborn] life as we would protect other children…I remain committed to restoring the value of human life and fighting for the rights of the unborn…Most importantly, we must ensure that the most vulnerable among us – both unborn children and mothers struggling with unplanned pregnancies – are afforded the compassion and opportunities they need to choose life.”

Congressman Ryan’s commitment to protecting life is evidenced by Congressman Ryan’s 100% pro-life voting record in AUL Action’s, AUL’s sister organization, score card. During his tenure in Congress, he has consistently worked to safeguard all innocent human life and to advance the health and safety of women by voting for life-affirming, pro-woman legislation including voting to end federal taxpayer funding of abortion, and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is wrought with anti-life provisions. He has also co-sponsored legislation to protect the freedom of conscience, and to protect the health and safety of minor girls.

In a piece he wrote for the Heritage Foundation and reported at LifeNews, Congressman Ryan writes: “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?”

Congressman Ryan’s record particularly demonstrates his understanding that fiscal and social issues go hand in hand. Seven out of 10 Americans oppose the use of their tax dollars to support abortion, and Congressman Ryan has and will continue to ensure American’ hard-earned tax dollars do not line the coffers of the nation’s largest abortion provider, a scandal-ridden, corrupt organization that disregards the health and safety of women and young girls.

John Locke once said: “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” At a time when many leaders attempt to placate or mislead hidden agendas with words, what an honor to have someone who is defending Americans in his actions—someone who is combating the real war on women and defending innocent human life.

Congressman Ryan’s actions—particularly his support of life-affirming legislation—demonstrate that he whole-heartedly shares AUL’s goal of ensuring that all are welcomed in life and protected in law.

AUL President Charmaine Yoest is more blunt.

“Paul Ryan has been an eloquent defender of life, articulating his view that policy and principles can work together.  America is founded on the essential belief that every person has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – translating that principle into law in statehouses across America and in the U.S. Capitol is the central mission of our political leaders. On the issue of defending life in particular, the use of the bully pulpit is crucial, and we look forward to hearing more from Congressman Ryan on the need to ensure that every person is welcomed in life and protected in law.”

“Paul Ryan’s record demonstrates that the Life issue is an economic issue. This election is a referendum on President Obama’s championing of a health care plan that is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. And AUL Action welcomes Congressman Paul Ryan’s strong stance against buttressing the abortion industry with American’s hard-earned tax dollars.”

However, where the anti-choice activists are excited by the pick, not all conservatives, even on the far right, are as enthused. Tea Party leader Richard A. Viguerie said via press release that:

“In choosing House Budget Committee Chairman Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, Governor Romney has made a good choice, and it shows that Romney has his eye on one of the most important issues in this election — Washington’s out of control spending. However, Paul Ryan is not the bold conservative leader or ‘boat rocker’ grassroots conservatives and Tea Partiers were hoping for.

“Ryan is a good man, a strong family man and one who by all appearances lives according to conservative principles; he will help reassure social conservatives that Republicans stand for traditional values [but]…To lock-up the support of those 4 million independents and right-of-center voters who walked away from the Republicans in 2006, but came back in the Tea Party wave in 2010, Governor Romney needed to make a bold choice. Paul Ryan is a good choice, but not a bold choice.”

Not bold? Maybe not enough for conservatives. For women who are concerned about being sent to jail if Republicans ever manage to finally make abortion illegal again, this election really is a stark choice indeed.