You are browsing the archive for Paul Ryan.

Legitimate Rape? A Rape Victim and Counselor Reflects on Rape Culture Myths

11:08 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Kim Shults for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A caricature of Todd Akin

Todd Akin isn't the only one who believe myths about rape (Image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr)

“The events as you’ve described them, Kim, constitute a felony rape. If you do not make a statement, we will still proceed with prosecution and regard you as a hostile witness.”

I was 20 years old, on a semester leave from college. Those were the words of the police officer to me, in a hospital room, after I recounted what had happened to me a couple of days earlier.

It was my first interaction with the police, other than Officer Friendly visiting my elementary school class, or one of the officers my parents had befriended when they started a Neighborhood Watch program in the community where I was raised. Surely I could trust the police, I thought, to understand what had happened and to help me.

Although this was more than 20 years ago, I remember the moment vividly, because it was the acknowledgment, the naming, of something I had been struggling ferociously to reject: I was raped.

I desperately wanted it to be something else, like a misunderstanding between me and this man I’d been dating for a week or so. I felt locked in a life-or-death battle to deny this heinous violation, because it threatened to undo me–my sense of personal safety and well being, my mental health, my personhood.

In the years since, I’ve had lots of therapy, including group therapy with fellow survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I’ve volunteered at two rape crisis centers. One involved a speakers’ panel, visiting college classes, rehab facilities, police training sessions, even a group of men incarcerated for violent crimes including rape. At the other center, I served as hotline counselor and in-hospital victims’ advocate. Most of the other volunteers had stories of their own survival, and saw their volunteer efforts as a way to give back, to create and foster the same kind of community that enabled us to find our own voices and our sanity, to reclaim our selves and reassemble the pieces of our lives.

I rarely think about the assault and its aftermath anymore. The counseling, both giving and receiving, not to mention the tremendous education I got from the centers where I volunteered, helped make triggering a rare event for me. The experience became just one painful part of my life, rather than its central, agonizing, defining core. Occasionally (about every two years in the District of Columbia) I am called for jury duty. As part of voir dire, I have to tell the judge and attorneys that I have been the victim of a crime. When pressed for details, I recall them with startling clarity. My account is invariably met with compassion, followed by a quick dismissal.

Despite the officer’s words to me in that hospital room, the justice system and all those I encountered as I navigated my way through it seemed hell bent on proving that what I had experienced was not, in the words of Senate candidate Akin of Missouri, “legitimate rape.”

Read the rest of this entry →

“New Life” Trumps “Existing Life” in the Modern Republican Party

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Carole Joffe for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

“I believe that if you have to choose between new life and existing life, you should choose new life. The person who has had an opportunity to live at least has been given that gift by God and should make way for new life on earth.”

These are the words of the late Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the conservative Heritage Foundation and a driving force behind the creation of the movement we know today as the Religious Right. As the above quote implies, Weyrich had no patience for those in anti-choice circles who advocated for an abortion exception when the life of the pregnant woman was threatened.

This sentiment, voiced by Weyrich in 1984, has never entirely disappeared from some sectors of the anti-choice movement, though for quite some time, it was not a position widely spoken of. This is hardly surprising given that a huge majority of Americans support access to abortion in life-threatening situations.

However, the Republican Party’s official platform is one place where the absolute ban on any exceptions, including one to save a woman’s life, is retained.

 

Continue reading….

How Anti-Choice Is Paul Ryan? Check the Record

12:48 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Robin Marty for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Rep. Paul Ryan is against abortion, no exceptions. Paul Ryan would allow an exception for rape. Ryan doesn’t believe in birth control. Ryan only has three children, he must believe in birth control. Ryan is pro-life “from conception to natural death.”

Ever since the moment Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the media has been picking intricately through votes and statements in an attempt to nail down just exactly what it is that Ryan means when he says he’s “never going to not vote pro-life.” It’s been hard to pin — for every vote restricting a woman’s right to chose, there is an explanation provided by another right-wing columnist saying that you can’t “prove” it really means he stands where it appears he stands. With so much media attention paid to his draconian budget in the last two years, few reporters spent nearly the same detail pinning down exactly what he believed when it comes to reproductive rights.

There’s a reason for that, and that is how Ryan’s couches his own language when it comes to reproductive rights — language that allows everyone to see what they want to see. By saying he would “never not vote pro-life,” he has it both ways — supporters can say that he supports forcing women to give birth regardless of the circumstances, yet when opponents say he would do that, they point to his lack of public statements to support that argument.

It’s the “hiding in plain sight” theory. There is no reference to abortion as an issue on Ryan’s campaign website, and only one news clipping even mentioning it in his media section. He speaks of “moral fabric” and a need to return God to the public square, but avoids saying outright what falls into the moral categories that need to be renewed.

For those who support abortion rights, it’s easy to look at the votes he has cast and the bills he has cosponsored and say that clearly, Ryan is an opponent of abortion in all situations. After all, he cosponsored the “forcible rape” bill, the “let her die” act and has a perfect record with National Right to Life.

Opponents disagree. If they choose, they could cast his numerous votes to ban funding and access for abortion as just a sign of his fiscal hawkishness, a vote to protect the conscience of those who are religious, or a fight to protect the fetus being carried by its mother if the mother is a victim of a crime.

So who is right, and why is it so hard to discern?

Here are the things we know for sure:

Read the rest of this entry →

Paul Ryan Pick Presents Unique Conundrum for Republican Women Voters

10:41 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Rebecca Sive for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flick)

Reports on women’s reasons for choosing public office are replete with data supporting the fact that these women, regardless of political party affiliation, are motivated to seek office by their desire to improve the lives of women and children. There are also occasions when women-electeds join hands across the political aisle to support a women’s cause, albeit usually of the “motherhood and apple pie” sort.

And women of every political stripe share that “girl power” bond so evident during the last couple weeks when America’s women Olympians were proving girl power to the right and to the left, literally. Regardless of political party affiliation we whooped and hollered; we didn’t know the athletes’ political views, but it didn’t matter. Knowing the desire and will of Gabby and Missy and Allyson and their team mates to assert their girl power was sufficient to being supportive.

Yet, while American women of differing political views share so many fundamental beliefs about the power (and virtue) of women, Republican and Democratic women officeholders increasingly differ in their approach to policy issues affecting women. The recent fight over re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and Republican women Member votes against the Paycheck Fairness Act are just two proof points.

Further proof came in the formation earlier this year of the Women’s Policy Committee by a group of Republican women Members. Alas, according to the Center for American Progress, these women are united in “…their legislative opposition to women’s rights…” including the fact that, as rated by Planned Parenthood:  ”20 of the 24…women earned a zero score, voting against reproductive health at every opportunity. The average score for the women was under 6 percent.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Paul Ryan’s Missing Children and Mitt Romney’s Forbidden Grandchildren

10:54 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Carole Joffe for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna, have three very cute young children. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, are the parents of five grown sons and the proud grandparents of eighteen.  Normally, beyond supplying the requisite photo ops to assure voters that the presidential ticket is composed of "good family men" (or women), the actual number of individuals in such candidates’ family does not gather much attention. Normally, moreover, I would not feel comfortable writing about the private reproductive choices of candidates, and especially those of their wives and children. But of course, these are hardly normal times in American politics, given the centrality of the radical agenda on reproduction in the contemporary Republican Party — and Romney and Ryan’s enthusiastic endorsement of this agenda, which if passed, would bring misery to millions of Americans.

Both Paul Ryan’s relatively small family and Mitt Romney’s quite large one reveal the reproductive minefields for Republican candidates who presumably are expected to show obedience, in their personal lives, to the party’s extremist platform. The Ryans’ reproductive choices, in particular, may also be an example of the perennial hypocrisy of politicians who do not live by the rules they seek to establish for others.

Let’s consider, first, the number of children that Paul Ryan has. He and his wife married in 2000. Let us assume they have not made use of birth control in their married life (which would make Janna Ryan among the 2 percent of Catholic women who have not used contraception.) This should be a fair assumption to make, given that Ryan is a co-sponsor of a federal "Sanctity of Human Life Act," which among other things, would prohibit many forms of birth control, and he has been a firm opponent of family planning programs.

But the fact that only three children have emerged in 12 years of marriage is puzzling. Figures from the respected Contraceptive Technology website show that 85 percent of women in couples where no contraceptive method is used for a year will experience an unintended pregnancy. If the Ryans have been using so-called "natural family planning", also known as "fertility awareness-based methods," then their chances of an unintended pregnancy in a given year would have been 25 percent. Had Paul Ryan used a condom, his wife’s chance of an unintended pregnancy in a year would be 15 percent. In short, it is hard to understand how this marriage of 12 years has produced only 3 children, unless this couple have used more reliable methods of birth control. (It is, of course, possible that the Ryans have experienced infertility issues, in which case they have my sincere sympathy).

As for Mitt Romney, a decidedly awkward aspect for him with respect to his large number of grandchildren is that, as the New York Times reported, at least three of them were born to his son, Tagg, through the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy. Furthermore, according to Mother Jones, "Two of Tagg’s brothers reportedly have struggled with infertility issues and resorted to IVF as well." But Romney is well-remembered, in pro-choice and religious right circles alike, for his answer of "absolutely" when  Mike Huckabee, a favorite of the religious right, asked if he would support a constitutional amendment declaring that life begins at conception — an amendment which, if passed, would not only outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception, but  would also criminalize IVF, the very procedure by which some of his grandchildren came into being.

The Ryans’ probable use of birth control and the Romney family’s use of IVF are only the latest examples of a long string of Republican candidates being caught in an understandable inability to live up to the absolutist demands of their party. Remember, in 1988, vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle’s "gaffe" (which many considered his most human moment of the campaign) when he admitted to a reporter that "I’d support my daughter" if she chose to have an abortion? Or George H.W. Bush, in 1980, hurriedly agreeing to officially disown his support for abortion rights, so Ronald Reagan would find him an acceptable running mate?

The difference between these earlier incidents and now is that then the reproductive minefields were specifically about abortion. Now, not only has the ante been raised with respect to abortion — high profile Republican candidates are currently expected to disavow the traditional exceptions for rape and incest — but support for contraception and assisted reproduction can prove toxic to candidates as well. (Tagg Romney’s use of IVF did not go unnoticed in anti-choice circles). It remains to be seen how these extreme positions, let alone the Republican candidates’ difficulties in living up to them, will be a factor in November’s election.

Questions for Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and Other Opponents of Health Care Reform: Where Are Your Facts?

12:09 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Paul Ryan (United States Congress / Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Thursday has caused a rush of panic from the opponents of universal health care. Lots and lots of claims about what the law does are being tossed around, and many of these claims are what you might call puzzling to those of us who actually know what’s in the ACA. Now, I don’t want to accuse anyone of intentionally lying without gathering more evidence, but without a deeper understanding of what various conservatives mean by their claims, it’s hard to suppress the sense that they may perhaps just be lying. So, I’ve made a list of questions I want opponents of health care reform to answer so I can better understand how their seemingly outrageous claims about the ACA make sense outside of the most obvious “lying” angle.

How does one “go on” Obamacare? Paul Ryan, denouncing the bill: “Millions of people who are otherwise going to go on Medicaid, are now going to go on Obamacare which costs a whole lot more money.” What is this “Obamacare” that people can go onto? I looked around to see if I could get an insurance plan through the “Obamacare” that Ryan and other conservatives are talking about Americans going on to and all I can find are the same old private insurance companies that existed before. The way Ryan & Co. talk about “Obamacare,” it sounds an awful lot like they think there’s a public option people can buy if they don’t want private insurance and aren’t eligible for Medicaid. But those of us who recall the big political fight over the ACA can tell you that there was originally a public option in the bill, but it was removed in order to get more votes from conservative Democrats. So what is this “Obamacare” conservatives keep insisting you can buy into and where do I find it?

How does the ACA remove your choice or get between you and your doctor? Various claims are being tossed around about health care reform “getting between you and your doctor” or taking away people’s choices in what medical treatments to pursue. In his remarks after the ACA ruling, Romney repeated this claim by saying the government is getting “more and more intrusive in your life” and “separating you and your doctor.”

So my question is: How? What medical decisions will the government now be making for you under the ACA? (Obviously, under conservative-supported legislation, the government has a lot of power to make decisions for women seeking abortion or contraception, but those laws aren’t part of ACA.) If you’re referring to the fact that insurance companies will retain the right to deny coverage for certain procedures they deem unnecessary, well, insurance companies already do that. If anything, the ACA has limited the ability of insurance companies to deny you the ability to pursue medical treatments you and your doctor choose, because the ACA has removed spending limits and banned insurance companies from denying you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Read the rest of this entry →

Paul Ryan’s Religion of Convenience

12:24 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Alesa Mackool for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

On Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan strayed from the current Republican mantra when he said he “respectfully disagrees” with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). What Ryan disagrees with is the Bishops’ stance that it’s not very Jesus-like to let poor people starve.

Food stamps were one of the many safety-net programs that got the axe in the Ryan budget, in favor of tax breaks for large corporations. A letter from the USCCB said lawmakers should “protect essential programs that serve poor and hungry people over subsidies that assist large and relatively well-off agricultural enterprises.”

It’s surprising it took so long for Republicans like Ryan and Speaker John Boehner, both Catholics, to “respectfully disagree” with the bishops. This kind of ideological clash is inevitable when your main influences as a Party are the irreconcilable Jesus and Ayn Rand.

None of this would be particularly problematic if these same Republicans didn’t lean on their religious beliefs, and specifically the USCCB, as validation for so much ridiculous and oppressive legislation. As Ryan and Boehner should have realized this week, the Catholic bishops might have a few good ideas about morality, but religious doctrine is hardly an acceptable foundation for modern legislation.

Selective observance of a church’s religious teachings is the standard for just about every believer, even the most supposedly devout. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who characterized himself as pretty-darn-Catholic, disagrees with the USCCB on torture, the death penalty, and immigration. The bishops notably issued a 2011 statement in support of workers’ rights in Wisconsin, in stark contrast to the Paul Ryan-Gov. Scott Walker agenda to destroy collective bargaining. Rarely though, do Republican politicians or others who disagree with the bishops get scolded quite so much as any Catholic who speaks up on behalf of family planning or women’s equality.

The present GOP War on Women is rooted in some of the cruelest interpretations of Catholicism. Like our hometown Republicans, the Vatican has no interest in letting women achieve anything resembling equality. In a Wednesday statement from the menfolk in charge, the Vatican accused U.S. nuns of promoting “radical feminist themes.” The umbrella group for U.S. nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, is accused of not saying enough terrible things about homosexuals and abortion rights for the Catholic leadership’s liking. This is another example of Catholic leadership stifling opposition in its ranks, and ignoring the interest of believers. The fact that the USCCB has become so intertwined with U.S. politics in recent years makes the Church’s silencing of women inexcusable. (There’s a Change.org petition in support of the nuns and their work.)

This restriction of women’s roles certainly isn’t limited to Catholicism, but the USCCB’s influence on U.S. lawmakers should invite plenty of public skepticism onto the Church leadership’s behavior.

Because the bishops say GOP Jesus said life begins when you click on an attractive person’s Match.com profile, Republicans argue that low-income women and women in the military should have fewer reproductive choices than those who can afford birth control on their own. The USCCB launched the firing shots over the rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers to cover contraception in their employees’ health plans (yes, there’s still an exemption for religiously-affiliated employers). And now GOP leadership is opposing an expansion to the Violence Against Women Act. Perhaps the GOP “respectfully disagrees” with Jesus that same-sex couples and battered illegal immigrants deserve our compassion.

If you have to pick and choose which part of a religious doctrine to adhere to, it’s pretty clear that this doctrine shouldn’t be used to justify legislation. Our leaders are elected to adhere to the Constitution, and that’s both a firm platform to stand on, and something we all can agree on.