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Paul Ryan on Abortion

Republican nominee for Vice President; U.S. Rep. (WI-1)


Private & public life inseparable on faith & life issues

Q: What role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion?

RYAN: I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life. Now, you want to ask basically why I'm pro-life? It's not simply because of my Catholic faith. That's a factor, but it's also because of reason and science. I believe that life begins at conception. Now, I understand this is a difficult 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.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Judges shouldn't decide abortion; Congress should

Q: If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?

RYAN: We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people, through their elected representatives and reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination.

BIDEN: The next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That's how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself: With Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for Mr. Romney, who do you think he's likely to appoint? Do you think he's likely to appoint someone far right, that would outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen. I guarantee you that will not happen [with Obama]. We picked people who are open-minded. They've been good justices.

RYAN: Was there a litmus test on them?

BIDEN: There was no litmus test. We picked people who had an open mind, did not come with an agenda.

Source: 2014 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Don't make Catholic Charities do things the ObamaCare way

[Look at] what happened to the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities this past January, when the new mandates of ObamaCare started coming. Never mind your own conscience, they were basically told, from now on you're going to do things the government's way.

Ladies and gentlemen, you would be hard pressed to find another group in America that does more to serve the health of women and their babies than the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities. And now, suddenly, we have ObamaCare bureaucrats presuming to dictate how they will do it.

As Governor Romney has said, this mandate is not a threat and insult to one religious group--it is a threat and insult to every religious group. He and I are honored to stand with you--people of faith and concerned citizens--in defense of religious liberty. And I can assure you, when Mitt Romney is elected, we will get to work--on day one--to repeal that mandate and all of ObamaCare.

Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit , Sep 14, 2012

Then: safe, legal & rare; now: unqualified right to abortion

Giving up any further pretense of moderation on this issue, and in complete disregard of millions of pro-life Democrats, President Obama has chosen to pander to the most extreme elements of his party. In the Clinton years, the stated goal was to make abortion "safe, legal and rare." But that was a different time, and a different president. Now, apparently, the Obama-Biden ticket stands for an absolute, unqualified right to abortion--at any time, under any circumstances, & even at taxpayer expense.

What we believe is plain to state: These vital questions should be decided, not by the caprice of unelected judges, but by the conscience of the people and their elected representatives. And in this good-hearted country, we believe in showing compassion for mother and child alike. We don't write anyone off in America, especially those without a voice. Every child has a place and purpose in this world. Everyone counts, and in a just society the law should stand on the side of life.

Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit , Sep 14, 2012

Life begins at conception, so protect unborn children

Social conservatives were skeptical of Romney's moderate record on abortion and family planning, but they see the young Wisconsin Republican running mate, a Catholic, as one of their own.

"Congressman Ryan has a deep, abiding respect for all human life, including unborn children and their mothers, the disabled, and the elderly," said the president of National Right to Life.

Ryan himself has said, "I support the rights of the unborn child. Personally, I believe that life begins at conception, and it is for that reason that I feel we need to protect that life as we would protect other children."

The National Right to Live Committee scores him as "a 100% pro-life voting record" ever since he entered the House in 1999. Abortion rights groups don't quibble with that assessment. "Rep. Ryan has cast 59 votes on reproductive rights while in Congress and not one has been pro-choice," said the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America

Source: Joanne Kenen on Politico.com , Aug 12, 2012

Church-provided contraception is about rights & conscience

Rep. Paul Ryan blasted the Obama administration's moves to mandate religious affiliated groups to provide contraception coverage as "paternalistic" and "arrogant."

"What we're getting from the White House on this conscience issue, it's not an issue about contraception, it's an issue that reveals a political philosophy the president is showing that basically treats our constitutional rights as if they were revocable privileges from our government, not inalienable rights from our creator." said Ryan. "We're seeing this new government activism, paternalistic, arrogant, political philosophy that puts new government-granted rights in the way of our constitutional rights."

"That's really not about contraception," said Ryan of the mandate. "It's about violating our first amendment rights to religious freedom and conscience. [Obama] believes that government-granted rights trump our constitutional rights such as our first amendment right to conscience, to freedom of religion."

Source: The Hill: Healthwatch; reporting on NBC's Meet the Press , Feb 19, 2012

Voted YES on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Fortenberry, R-NE]: Americans deserve to know how the government spends their money, and they are right to refuse the use of their tax dollars for highly controversial activities--in this case, abortion. Abortion harms women. It takes the lives of children, and it allows a man to escape his responsibility. The abortion industry many times profits from all of this pain. We can and must do better as a society, and at a minimum, taxpayer dollars should not be involved. This issue has manifested itself most intently during the health care debate. Unless a prohibition is enacted, taxpayers will fund abortion under the framework of the new health care law. Abortion is not health care.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY]: H.R. 3 is actually dangerous for women's health. By refusing to provide any exceptions to women who are facing serious health conditions--cancer, heart or whatever that may be--you are forcing women to choose to risk their health or to risk bankruptcy, and I think that is morally unacceptable. Under H.R. 3, a woman facing cancer who needs to terminate a pregnancy in order to live might have to go into debt over the $10,000 that the legal and necessary procedure could cost. Despite having both health insurance and tax-preferred savings accounts, this bill would prevent her from having that.

Reference: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act; Bill H.3 ; vote number 11-HV292 on May 4, 2011

Voted NO on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.

Allows federal funding for research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo, provided such embryos:
  1. have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics;
  2. were created for the purposes of fertility treatment;
  3. were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment and would otherwise be discarded; and
  4. were donated by such individuals with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Since 2 years ago, the last Stem Cell bill, public support has surged for stem cells. Research is proceeding unfettered and, in some cases, without ethical standards in other countries. And even when these countries have ethical standards, our failures are allowing them to gain the scientific edge over the US. Some suggest that it is Congress' role to tell researchers what kinds of cells to use. I suggest we are not the arbiters of research. Instead, we should foster all of these methods, and we should adequately fund and have ethical oversight over all ethical stem cell research.

Opponents support voting NO because:

A good deal has changed in the world of science. Amniotic fluid stem cells are now available to open a broad new area of research. I think the American people would welcome us having a hearing to understand more about this promising new area of science. As it stands today, we will simply have to debate the bill on the merits of information that is well over 2 years old, and I think that is unfortunate.

The recent findings of the pluripotent epithelial cells demonstrates how quickly the world has changed. Wouldn't it be nice to have the researcher before our committee and be able to ask those questions so we may make the best possible judgment for the American people?

Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 3 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-020 on Jan 11, 2007

Voted NO on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

To provide for human embryonic stem cell research. A YES vote would:
Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 810 ; vote number 2005-204 on May 24, 2005

Voted YES on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

To prevent the transportation of minors in circumvention of certain laws relating to abortion, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; Bill HR 748 ; vote number 2005-144 on Apr 27, 2005

Voted YES on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime.

Vote to pass a bill that would make it a criminal offense to harm or kill a fetus during the commission of a violent crime. The measure would set criminal penalties, the same as those that would apply if harm or death happened to the pregnant woman, for those who harm a fetus. It is not required that the individual have prior knowledge of the pregnancy or intent to harm the fetus. This bill prohibits the death penalty from being imposed for such an offense. The bill states that its provisions should not be interpreted to apply a woman's actions with respect to her pregnancy.
Reference: Unborn Victims of Violence Act; Bill HR 1997 ; vote number 2004-31 on Feb 26, 2004

Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill banning a medical procedure, which is commonly known as "partial-birth" abortion. The procedure would be allowed only in cases in which a women's life is in danger, not for cases where a women's health is in danger. Those who performed this procedure, would face fines and up to two years in prison, the women to whom this procedure is performed on are not held criminally liable.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Santorum, R-PA; Bill S.3 ; vote number 2003-530 on Oct 2, 2003

Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research.

Vote to pass a bill that would forbid human cloning and punish violators with up to 10 years in prison and fines of at least $1 million. The bill would ban human cloning, and any attempts at human cloning, for both reproductive purposes and medical research. Also forbidden is the importing of cloned embryos or products made from them.
Reference: Human Cloning Prohibition Act; Bill HR 534 ; vote number 2003-39 on Feb 27, 2003

Voted YES on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info.

Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2002: Vote to pass a bill that would prohibit the federal, state and local governments that receive federal funding from discriminating against health care providers, health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and any other kind of health care facility, organization or plan, that decline to refer patients for, pay for or provide abortion services. In addition the bill would expand an existing law "conscience clause" that protects physician training programs that refuse to provide training for abortion procedures.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bilirakis, R-FL; Bill HR 4691 ; vote number 2002-412 on Sep 25, 2002

Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would remove language reversing President Bush's restrictions on funding to family planning groups that provide abortion services, counseling or advocacy.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 1646 ; vote number 2001-115 on May 16, 2001

Voted YES on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes.

Vote to pass a bill that would make it a federal crime to harm a fetus while committing any of 68 federal offenses or a crime under military law. Abortion doctors and women whose own actions harmed their fetuses would be exempt.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Graham, R-SC; Bill HR 503 ; vote number 2001-89 on Apr 26, 2001

Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortions.

HR 3660 would ban doctors from performing the abortion procedure called "dilation and extraction" [also known as “partial-birth” abortion]. The measure would allow the procedure only if the life of the woman is at risk.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Canady, R-FL; Bill HR 3660 ; vote number 2000-104 on Apr 5, 2000

Voted YES on barring transporting minors to get an abortion.

The Child Custody Protection Act makes it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL; Bill HR 1218 ; vote number 1999-261 on Jun 30, 1999

Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record.

Ryan scores 0% by NARAL on pro-choice voting record

For over thirty years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been the political arm of the pro-choice movement and a strong advocate of reproductive freedom and choice. NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission is to protect and preserve the right to choose while promoting policies and programs that improve women's health and make abortion less necessary. NARAL Pro-Choice America works to educate Americans and officeholders about reproductive rights and health issues and elect pro-choice candidates at all levels of government. The NARAL ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: NARAL website 03n-NARAL on Dec 31, 2003

Rated 100% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-life stance.

Ryan scores 100% by the NRLC on abortion issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NRLC scores as follows:

About the NRLC (from their website, www.nrlc.org):

The ultimate goal of the National Right to Life Committee is to restore legal protection to innocent human life. The primary interest of the National Right to Life Committee and its members has been the abortion controversy; however, it is also concerned with related matters of medical ethics which relate to the right to life issues of euthanasia and infanticide. The Committee does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense. The National Right to Life Committee was founded in 1973 in response to the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, legalizing the practice of human abortion in all 50 states, throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy.

The NRLC has been instrumental in achieving a number of legislative reforms at the national level, including a ban on non-therapeutic experimentation of unborn and newborn babies, a federal conscience clause guaranteeing medical personnel the right to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and various amendments to appropriations bills which prohibit (or limit) the use of federal funds to subsidize or promote abortions in the United States and overseas.

In addition to maintaining a lobbying presence at the federal level, NRLC serves as a clearinghouse of information for its state affiliates and local chapters, its individual members, the press, and the public.

Source: NRLC website 06n-NRLC on Dec 31, 2006

Prohibit transporting minors across state lines for abortion.

Ryan co-sponsored prohibiting taking minors across state lines for abortion

A bill to prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions.

Source: Child Custody Protection Act (S.2543&H.R.1063) 08-SR2543 on Jan 22, 2008

Bar funding for abortion under federal Obamacare plans.

Ryan signed H.R.5939

Source: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act 10-HR5939 on Jul 29, 2010

Prohibit federal funding for abortion.

Ryan signed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

Source: H.R.3 &S.906 11-HR0003 on May 5, 2011

Congress shall protect life beginning with fertilization.

Ryan co-sponsored Sanctity of Human Life Act

    Declares that:
  1. the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human and is the person's paramount and most fundamental right;
  2. each human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and
  3. Congress, each state, and all U.S. territories have the authority to protect all human lives.
The terms 'human' and 'human being' include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, beginning with the earliest stage of development, created by the process of fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent.
Source: H.R.212 11-HR212 on Jan 7, 2011

Prohibit federal funding to groups like Planned Parenthood.

Ryan co-sponsored Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act

Congressional Summary:Prohibits providing any federal family planning assistance to an entity unless the entity will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion. Excludes an abortion where: (1) the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or an act of incest against a minor; or (2) a physician certifies that the woman suffered from a physical disorder, injury, or illness that would place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.

Wikipedia Explanation:Title X of the Public Health Service Act, titled "Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs" is a US government program dedicated to providing family planning services for those in need. Title X provides access to contraceptive services, supplies and information. Priority for services is given to persons of low-income.

Sponsor Remarks by Rep. Mike Pence:It is morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to promote abortion. Last year, Planned Parenthood received more than $363 million in revenue from government grants; and performed an unprecedented 324,008 abortions. The largest abortion provider in America should not also be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X. The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act will prevent any family planning funds under Title X from going to Planned Parenthood or other organizations that perform abortions. It will ensure that abortion providers are not being subsidized with federal tax dollars.

OnTheIssues Explanation: Federal money is never explicitly provided for abortions. But Planned Parenthood does provide abortions, paid for via private funds. At issue is the "fungibility" of money: Planned Parenthood can use federal funds to supplement their budget and hence free up other funds for abortion. This bill would end that practice.

Source: H.R.217 11-HR217 on Jan 7, 2011

Grant the pre-born equal protection under 14th Amendment.

Ryan co-sponsored granting the pre-born equal protection under 14th Amendment

Bill would implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person. The Right to Life Act declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and defines "human being" to encompass all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization or cloning.

Source: Right to Life Act (H.R.618) 2007-HR618 on Jan 22, 2007

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Page last updated: Oct 22, 2012