At last night’s vice presidential debate, a lot of us sat wondering, “Okay, this is all great–but where do you stand on women’s health issues?” Because women’s health–from birth control access to abortion rights–affect us directly, and they affect everyone else indirectly. Think about it: If you get pregnant, it doesn’t just affect you, it affects whatever guy you were with, it affects your parents, it affects the government if you require public assistance to keep and care for a child. Still, considering it’s your uterus, it’s disturbing that a bunch of rich white men feel the need to make the decisions about what goes on within it. But last night we finally at least saw where these men stood.
The presidential debates didn’t touch on them at all, but the vice presidential face off between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan addressed the abortion issue directly.
We knew going into the vice presidential debate that Joe Biden is pro-choice and Paul Ryan is anti-abortion. But last night we learned why they each had their respective stances and what kind of influence their religious beliefs (they’re both Catholic) have on their positions.
Vice presidential candidate and Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan spoke first, telling debate moderator Martha Raddatz about a seven-week ultrasound of his first daughter that helped mold his views on abortion–and that science and medicine also influenced his position, though he didn’t mention anything scientific. “Our little baby was in the shape of a bean, and to this day we have nicknamed our first born child, Liza, ‘Bean.’ Now, I believe that life begins at conception,” he said. Okay, cute story, but still not science . . . “Those are the reasons why I’m pro-life,” he continued, “Now, I understand this is a difficult of issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.” We’d like to point out that Paul Ryan, prior to being chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate, actually authored the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would seek to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother, and defines life as beginning at fertilization.
Paul Ryan also made a false accusation against Joe Biden and the Democratic party, claiming that President Obama and his party endorse abortion “without restriction and with taxpayer funding.” The truth is that for the past 30 years, something called the Hyde amendment prevents tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions. So, why was Ryan basically lying to make Biden and Obama look bad?
On the opposing side, Joe Biden, when he wasn’t chuckling and silently encouraging more Americans to go to the dentist, took a much more moderate view, even in spite of his own Catholic beliefs. “I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that, women, that they can’t control their body,” he said. “It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court. I’m not going to interfere with that.”
Biden also made sure to point out Ryan’s prior stance on abortion in cases of rape and incest. “I guess he accepts Governor Romney’s position now, because in the past he has argued that there was — there’s rape and forcible rape,” Biden said. “He’s argued that in the case of rape or incest … it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.”
Paul Ryan responded with the usual religious malarkey, telling Biden, “Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain religious liberties,” he said. He conveniently forgot that faith-based employers–churches, religious schools, etc.–don’t have to pay for contraception. Oopsies! Again, saying something that’s not true to try to make your opponent look bad. Everybody’s entitled to their opinions, but that’s not so cool.
We’re not here to tell you how to vote. That’s your business. But we do want you to know what you’re getting into: Your body is also your business, and if you want the ability to maintain control (and affordable birth control) over your body, electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will endanger that right.
Here’s why: The next president will decide whether the Affordable Care Act, which helps us afford–you guessed it!–health care and contraception, sticks around. The next prez will also probably need to appoint two Supreme Court justices in his term. Supreme Court justices have the ability, should the case arise, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which granted abortion rights to women. Obviously, any P.O.T.U.S. is going to appoint someone with, ostensibly, the same views as they have–and those two votes can change a whole lot about our lives and our freedoms to control what goes on in our own bodies.
Are you voting in the 2012 presidential election? Did you watch the vice presidential debate? Who do you think won the vice presidential debate? Do you agree with Paul Ryan or with Joe Biden on abortion and women’s reproductive rights? Sound off in the comments!