August 15, 2012 — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's recent announcement of House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate has prompted a closer look at Ryan's record on abortion rights and other women's health issues, National Journal's "The Next America" reports (Ramirez, "The Next America," National Journal, 8/14).
Ryan opposes abortion rights except when a woman's life is at risk, while Romney has said the procedure also should be available in cases of rape or incest (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/15).
Although Ryan had not introduced a single abortion-related bill during his 12-year congressional tenure, antiabortion groups consider him a "stalwart opponent of abortion rights," according to the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/14). In every abortion-related vote he has taken in Congress, he has sided with abortion-rights opponents (Condon, CBS News, 8/15). Americans United for Life Action and the National Right to Life Committee have given Ryan a 100% "pro-life" ranking for his voting record.
Ryan has voted for laws banning so-called "partial-birth abortion" and prohibiting accompanying a minor across state lines to help her obtain abortion care ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/14). He voted against legislation that would have allowed servicewomen stationed overseas to obtain abortion care at U.S.-run medical facilities. In 2006, he voted for a bill requiring women seeking abortion care to be counseled about purported "fetal pain" (CBS News, 8/15).
Recently, Ryan gained attention for his support of the Sanctity of Human Life Act (HR 212), which would define life as beginning at fertilization. In an article for the Heritage Foundation in 2010, Ryan wrote, "I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human has no rights that an older person is bound to respect" ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/14).
Opposition to Contraceptive Coverage, Family Planning Programs
Ryan also opposes the federal contraceptive coverage requirement, calling it a violation of "our first amendment rights to religious freedom and conscience."
He has taken a firm stance against federally funded family planning programs and has voted at least four times to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He voted in 1999 to deny birth control coverage to federal workers and has voted multiple times against funding international family planning programs (Daily Beast, 8/13).