FACT CHECK: Romney-Ryan Too Extreme on Women’s Health

As Congressman Ryan highlighted tonight, he and Mitt Romney are too extreme on the critical issue of women’s health. In the House, Ryan worked with Todd Akin to narrow the definition of rape and outlaw abortion for rape and incest victims. And Romney-Ryan believe women’s health care decisions should be put into the hands of their employers, would defund Planned Parenthood, and endorsed the Republican Party platform that includes a constitutional amendment to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

RYAN COSPONSORED LEGISLATION WITH TODD AKIN THAT WOULD HAVE REDEFINED RAPE AS “FORCIBLE RAPE” AND LIMITED ABORTION COVERAGE FOR RAPE VICTIMS

2011: Ryan Co-Sponsored The “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” Which Initially Redefined “Rape” As “Forcible Rape” For Purposed Of Limiting Federal Funding Of Abortion Services. In 2011, Ryan and Todd Akin co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act.  According to the Washington Post, “[a] Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women's groups that say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered ‘forcible.’ The most well-known provision that would become permanent under the bill is the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions.” [HR 3 Co-Sponsored 1/20/11, Vote #292, 5/4/11; Washington Post, 2/1/11]

  • Bloomberg: Ryan Co-sponsored The Legislation Before The Word “Forcible” Was Later Removed In Committee. “While the legislation didn’t explain the difference between rape and forcible rape, the word ‘forcible’ was removed from each bill in committee by amendments from Republicans following criticism from Democratic lawmakers and reproductive-rights groups. Ryan and Akin signed on to the bills before the language was changed.” [Bloomberg, 8/22/12]
  • Washington Post: Redefining Rape As Forcible Rape “Could Distinguish It From Other Kinds Of Sexual Assault That Are Typically Recognized As Rape, Including Statutory Rape And Attacks That Occur Because Of Drugs Or Verbal Threats.” “The most well-known provision that would become permanent under the bill is the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened. Under the proposed language, however, rape becomes ‘forcible rape.’ Critics say the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.” [Washington Post, 2/1/11]

New York Times Editorial: Ryan Co-Sponsored A Bill With Todd Akin “That Would Have Narrowed The Definition Of Rape To Reduce The Number Of Poor Women Who Can Get An Abortion Through Medicaid.” “Mr. Ryan also co-sponsored, along with Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, a bill that would have narrowed the definition of rape to reduce the number of poor women who can get an abortion through Medicaid.  Besides that, he has co-sponsored more than three dozen anti-abortion bills, including measures that would require women to get an ultrasound first, bar abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia and end federal spending for family planning programs. Though he urged Mr. Akin to end his Senate race last week over an offensive remark about ‘legitimate rape,’ Mr. Ryan has actually co-sponsored more of these measures than Mr. Akin.  ‘I’m as pro-life as a person gets,’ he said in 2010.” [Editorial, New York Times, 8/27/12]

RYAN HAS CO-SPONSORED A PERSONHOOD BILL, WHICH COULD, IN EFFECT, BAN ALL ABORTIONS EVEN IN CASES OF RAPE AND INCEST, AND BAN SOME COMMON FORMS OF BIRTH CONTROL

2011: Ryan Co-Sponsored The Sanctity Of Human Life Act, A Personhood Bill That Defines Life As Beginning At Conception. “On January 7, 2011, U.S. Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) introduced House Resolution (H.R.) 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act. Co-sponsored by 62 representatives, including Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the bill declares that: the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; and the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” [Pro-Life Wisconsin website, prolifewisconsin.org, accessed 6/21/12; HR 212, Co-sponsored 1/7/11]

  • Mother Jones: “None Of The Personhood Bills Being Considered In Congress Contain Any Exemptions For Victims Of Rape Or Incest.” [Mother Jones, 11/8/11]
  • Mother Jones: The Sanctity of Human Life Act “Includes Language That Directly Parallels That Of The Mississippi Personhood Amendment.” [Mother Jones, 11/8/11]
  • New York Times: Personhood Amendments, Like The One Proposed In Mississippi, Would Ban Virtually All Abortions, Including Those Resulting From Rape Or Incest. “A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder… The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and ‘morning-after pills,’ which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.” [New York Times, 10/25/11]
  • Under The Sanctity Of Human Life Act, “Abortion And Some Forms Of Birth Control Could Be Construed As Murder.” “The concept of personhood is a fundamental tenet of the anti-abortion movement, and under this definition, abortion and some forms of birth control could be construed as murder.” [New York Times, 8/12/12]

RYAN OPPOSES ABORTION, EVEN IN CASES OF RAPE OR INCEST

New York Times Editorial: Ryan “Has Long Wanted To Ban Access To Abortion Even In The Case Of Rape, The Ideology Espoused In This Year’s Republican Platform.” “The full outpouring of hard-right enthusiasm is based, to a large degree, on Mr. Ryan’s sweeping opposition to abortion rights. He has long wanted to ban access to abortion even in the case of rape, the ideology espoused in this year’s Republican platform. (Mr. Romney favors a rape exception.) [Editorial, New York Times, 8/27/12]

  • 1998: Ryan Supported Abortion Ban With Exception Only For Mother’s Life. “Ryan has said he favors only one exception to a ban, to save a woman’s life.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/30/98]

RYAN SAID OF ABORTION IN THE CASE OF RAPE: “THE METHOD OF CONCEPTION DOESN’T CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF LIFE”

When Asked About His Stance On Abortion In Cases Of Rape, Ryan Said, “The Method Of Conception Doesn’t Change The Definition Of Life.” In an interview with WJHL-TV’s Josh Smith, the following exchange occurred: “SMITH: Abortion, now. Something we’re talking about. And I think our viewers would love to know exactly where you stand, specifically when—you’re pro-life and Catholic… RYAN: Oh, yeah. Yeah. SMITH: …but specifically where you stand when it comes to rape, and when it comes to the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she’s raped. RYAN: I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that—the position that—the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.” [Ryan Interview, WJHL (Tri-Cities, TN/VA), 8/23/12]

ROMNEY SUPPORTS THE BLUNT AMENDMENT WHICH WOULD ALLOW ANY EMPLOYER TO OPT OUT OF PROVIDING CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE – PUTTING AT RISK THE NEARLY 79 MILLION WOMEN WHO RELY ON THEIR EMPLOYER FOR HEALTH CARE

Romney Endorsed The Blunt Amendment Which Would Allow Employers To “Have Free Rein To Pick And Choose Your Medical Care As He Or She Saw Fit--So If The Boss Believed That Birth Control Were An Affront To God And Nature, Well, Too Bad For You.”  “And yet, just weeks after Obama announced the compromise, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) proposed legislation that would allow any employer or insurance company to decline to cover any medical care for any moral or religious reason. Under the law, your boss would have free rein to pick and choose your medical care as he or she saw fit--so if the boss believed that birth control were an affront to God and nature, well, too bad for you; you'd have to shell out the full monthly cost for your pill pack. The Blunt Amendment (which Romney endorsed) was blocked in the Senate with an extremely narrow margin--51 to 48--with Maine's Olympia Snowe (who announced around the same time that she would not be seeking reelection) the only Republican voting against it.” [Gretchen Voss, Women’s Health, September 2012]

Nearly 79 Million Women Received Health Care Coverage Through Their Employer.  According to the most recent census data, 78.8 million women under the age of 65 received health insurance coverage from their employer. [U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2011]

RYAN SUPPORTS A SIMILAR BILL IN THE HOUSE

Ryan On The HHS Contraception Mandate: Romney-Ryan Administration “Will Void This Right Away.” Q: “As a Roman Catholic priest and -- Catholics in particular and religious people in general are worried about the erosion of religious liberty in this country. What can we expect from a Romney-Ryan ticket?” REP. RYAN: “Look, I didn't set it -- as you probably know, I'm a Catholic as well. And -- (inaudible, applause) -- when I read this ruling, I was horrified. President Obama, through his imposition of ‘Obamacare,’ through this rule from the Department of Health and Human Services, is requiring Catholic churches, charities, hospitals to violate their own conscience, their own tenets. This is the First Amendment to the Constitution -- religious liberty, freedom of conscience. This is the First Amendment to our Constitution. I will tell you this. This will not stand in a Mitt Romney administration. Mitt Romney will respect religious liberty, and we will void this right away. We should not have to sue our own government to protect our religious freedoms. That's what our church is doing right now. We will not do this.” [Ryan Remarks in Cincinnati, Ohio, 9/25/12] 

ROMNEY AND RYAN WOULD ELIMINATE FUNDING FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND TITLE X

Romney: “I’ll Cut Off Funding To Planned Parenthood.” [Romney Town Hall, Shelby Twp., MI, 2/21/12]

  • Ryan Voted To Defund Planned Parenthood. In 2011, Ryan voted in favor of a bill which would insert a section in the FY11 Continuing Resolution which would prohibit Planned Parenthood and its affiliates from receiving federal funding. The resolution would order the Clerk of the House to change H.R. 1473, the FY11 Continuing Resolution, to bar the use of the federal funds to go to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any affiliate. The bill passed 241-185. [H Con Res 36, Vote #271, 4/14/11; The Hill, 4/12/11]

Romney Was A “Rarity” For Calling For Title X’s Defunding As No Other Candidates Took A Stand On The Issue And “Anti-Abortion Groups Haven’t Asked Candidates To Oppose” It. “In calling for Title X’s defunding, Romney is a bit of a rarity. No other candidate has taken a stand on the issue. Anti-abortion groups haven’t asked candidates to oppose Title X. The Susan B. Anthony List, for example, only goes as far as asking candidates to pledge to “defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions,” but not eliminate Title X outright. In moving to eliminate Title X, Romney is venturing into a new territory where the party doesn’t have much in the way of a definitive platform.” [Washington Post, 11/4/11]

  • Bloomberg: Ryan “Drafted A Budget Blueprint That Sought To End Federal Dollars For Title X, The National Family-Planning Program.” “As chairman of the House Budget Committee, [Ryan] drafted a budget blueprint that sought to end federal dollars for Title X, the national family-planning program.” [Bloomberg, 8/22/12]

ROMNEY BACKED A PROPOSAL TO OUTLAW ALL ABORTIONS

Romney Said He Would Be “Delighted” To Sign A Bill Banning “All Abortions.” QUESTIONER: “Hello, my name is AJ. I'm from Millstone, New Jersey. I would all of the candidates to give an answer on this. If hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Yes or no?” COOPER: “Governor Romney?” ROMNEY: “I agree with Senator Thompson, which is we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states. I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I'd be delighted.” COOPER: “The question is: Would you sign that bill?” ROMNEY: “Let me say it. I'd be delighted to sign that bill. But that's not where we are. That's not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.” [CNN Debate, 11/28/07]

  • 2012: Romney Said He “Had The Same Positions Today” As “When I Ran For President Last Time, So What You See Is What You Get.” Romney: “In terms of my positions, my conservative positions were seen in my work as governor. I wrote a book that describes my view for the country. I’ve run for president before. Had the same positions today that I had when I was governor, when I wrote the book and when I ran for president last time, so what you see is what you get.” [Tommy Tucker Show, WWL (New Orleans, LA), 3/23/12]

THE 2012 REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM INCLUDED A HUMAN LIFE AMENDMENT, WHICH WOULD BAN ABORTION, AND DID NOT INCLUDE EXCEPTIONS FOR RAPE OR INCEST

The 2012 Republican Party Platform “Was Written At The Direction Of Romney’s Campaign.” “It didn’t take long for strains within the Republican Party to surface Monday as national delegates got down to work on a final draft of the party platform, one week before the nominating convention opens. … There is no doubt about who is in charge, of course. Delegates for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are voting down substantive changes to the platform language that was written at the direction of Romney’s campaign.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/20/12]

  • The GOP Platform “Seeks Passage Of A Constitutional Amendment That Would Extend Legal Rights To The Unborn, Essentially Banning Abortion” And “The Language In The Platform Includes No Exceptions For Rape Or Incest.” [NPR, 8/21/12]