As journalists and pundits dig into Paul Ryan’s record in the House, it’s looking worse and worse for women’s rights. Ryan isn’t just your run of the mill Republican when it comes to reproductive rights, he’s on the ultra far right of the party. If he had his way, even the most popular forms of birth control would be illegal. Yes, you heard that right.
Ryan is one of the sponsors of a federal personhood bill, which would declare that any fertilized ovum “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” The bill would not just ban abortions, it would ban hormonal birth control — that is, the pill — as well, because such contraception works by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. And there are no exceptions even for rape and incest. That idea is so extreme that it was rejected soundly even by ultra-conservative Mississippi two years ago. It’s been rejected all over the country by wide margins. It’s wildly unpopular, even among Republicans.
But that’s just the beginning. He actually goes even further than that. Remember that terrible Virginia bill that would force any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive ultrasound even if their doctor says it’s medically unnecessary? Ryan is one of the sponsors of a bill, the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, to do that on the federal level. This, again, puts him on the furthest right wing fringe of his own party.
Mitt Romney has tried to have it both ways on this issue. He was pro-choice — he once told a story about a family friend who died from a botched abortion to explain why he was pro-choice and said “You will never hear me waver on that” — until he decided to run for president because he knew he couldn’t win the Republican nomination without sounding stridently anti-choice. So last year he said he “absolutely” supported a personhood amendment.