I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate. I’d been almost positive his veep candidate would be female, in large part because Romney’s ratings among women are pretty abysmal.
Playing that card failed miserably for John McCain four years ago, but believe it or not, Sarah Palin almost seems sort-of-kind-of-at-least-a-little-bit acceptable when you take a closer look at Paul Ryan.
I knew relatively little about Paul Ryan when the news broke, other than that he’s a Congressman from Wisconsin and something of a golden boy in the Tea Party.
I received a forwarded e-mail from my mother today, however, that concerned me. Deeply concerned me.
Now, the subject line was “5 Facts About Paul Ryan and Women”, and since I know what side of the political spectrum my mother hails from, I wasn’t surprised by its existence. I get mass e-mails from all directions of politics (someone–I’m pretty sure it was my brother despite his denials–signed me up for Rick Santorum’s mailing list), and it’s always interesting to see rhetoric at work, to observe two completely different spins on the same issues, the same numbers.
In other words, I read all political mailings with a grain of salt.
The e-mail I received today, though, a forward from Ultra Violet, was a bit different. It had the usual hard-swinging, attention-catching lines, but it also included footnotes … in other words, the wild accusations against Paul Ryan’s political stances on women’s issues are well-documented.
1. He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Think women deserve to earn the same pay as men for the same work? Paul Ryan doesn’t. And the pay gap costs women and their families close to $431,000 over their lifetimes.
In a nutshell, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is, as its name suggests, legislation intended to ensure that women have the same compensation opportunities as their male colleagues. It is, to be fair, very complex and not as clear-cut as Ultra Violet would have you believe.
That being said, The National Review admits that “many conservatives question the existence of a wage gap in the first place” and that “instead of helping workers, the Paycheck Fairness Act could actually make their jobs harder by increasing costs to the businesses that hire them.”
2. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It’s not just that Paul Ryan has voted 59 times against a woman’s right to choose—which he has. He would even rather let a woman die than allow her to have an abortion. He’s supported a bill to allow hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care to a woman, even if she could die without it.
Yes, this is also true. Frightening as hell, but true. In fact, Paul is not averse to women being prosecuted for having abortions. Prosecuted.
This disregard for the exigencies of women’s lives—the dismissal of their choices as amoral exercises of “arbitrary will”—was thrown into high relief during his 1998 run for congress against Democrat Lydia Spottswood. Both candidates backed a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion, but Spottswood believed there should be exceptions in cases where a woman’s life or health is endangered. “Ryan said he opposes abortion, period,” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He said any exceptions to a ‘partial-birth’ abortion….