At the start of the 112th Congress, Americans waited with bated breath for Republicans to get to work creating jobs, jobs, jobs, but instead they began a religious war against women that escalated as the year went on. It was bad enough that Republican controlled states and congressional Republicans were on a tear to send women back to the 1950s, but at least the Democratically controlled Senate and the White House were able to thwart House Republicans biblical agenda. With Willard Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate, a Republican victory in November will signal the end of the skirmishes and transform the war on women’s rights into a slaughter. Women should be quaking at the prospect of an executive branch that holds women in such low esteem that they will jeopardize their health and welfare to save money for tax breaks for the wealthy and to push a pro-life agenda, when in reality, their policies portend a pro-death agenda low-income women.
Romney has already distinguished himself as an anti-woman candidate with his promise to “get rid of Planned Parenthood,” and his pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act will erase the hard-fought benefits women won from cancer screenings to preventative medicine to premium equity with men. However, by choosing Ryan, Romney doubled down on his dangerous anti-women’s health agenda that is so far afield of Romney, that Draconian does not accurately describe what women have to look forward to in a Romney-Ryan administration.
The list of offensive anti-woman measures Ryan voted for gives the appearance of a man on a mission founded on punishing women for no other reason than to put them in their biblical role as birthing machines in subjection to a man, and in Ryan’s case, it is an evangelical, abusive, and mean-spirited man. Nearly all of the bills Ryan supported restricted women’s right to choose their own reproductive health, and those he opposed gave women equity in pay, better healthcare options, and the right to decide when they give birth. Whether it is Ryan’s adherence to Catholicism’s restrictions on birth control, or if he is an alleged pro-lifer, his record on women’s choice signals dark times for low-income women.
Ryan voted for the so-called “Let Women Die Bill” that gives conscience-stricken religious health-professionals and hospitals the right to refuse to provide an emergency abortion regardless if her life was in immediate danger or not. He co-sponsored a bill that denies rape victims on Medicaid access to abortions, and to further punish low-income women he voted to cut off Title X family planning programs the help poor and working-poor women affordable access to contraception as well as mammograms and cancer-screenings. Ryan is so anti-choice that he voted for the legislation that sanctions bans on abortion coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s state health-insurance exchanges regardless that women pay for the services themselves with their own funds or not. Ryan is not only against abortion, he is anti-contraception and it is regardless if it is covered in a health plan or not.
Ryan co-sponsored a national personhood bill that bans certain contraceptives, in vitro fertilization, and criminalizes operations to save a woman’s life if there were complications in a pregnancy. Fanatical Christian groups have attempted to pass amendments to state constitutions in over 25 states, and they have been soundly defeated in each instance. The personhood bills give full rights and protections in the 14th amendment to a single-celled organism, and yet Ryan supports restricting poor and low-income women from the same protections. Ryan, like most evangelical pro-choice advocates, loves the zygote, but hates the carrier, and his drastic budget cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, and children’s health programs ensures that when the zygote develops into a real being that breathes oxygen outside the womb, it will suffer ill health and malnutrition. Ryan’s record of voting to defund Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services cuts off access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, family planning counseling, and contraceptives that prevent the need for an abortion, but his goal is not just banning abortion, it is controlling when a woman has sex and when she gives birth.
The cuts in Ryan’s budget drastically, and disproportionately, affect low income women by cutting wide ranging social services social services such as child care, job training, Pell Grants, housing assistance, and others that assist women economically. In fact, one might be inclined to believe Ryan deliberately used the budget process to attack low-income women’s healthcare with cuts to Medicaid that over 20-million women depend on for basic care, and privatizing Medicare will put women who live longer than men in a financial deficit that makes them choose between healthcare and food.
Ryan has consistently voted against employment discrimination amendments and equal pay bills, and the cuts to the food stamp program will send young and old women alike into poverty. There is nothing in Ryan’s record to indicate any support for women’s rights, and everything that demonstrates his blatant disregard for their rights, health, or economic prosperity. He is the perfect partner for Romney, and if Christian conservatives were worried Romney was not harsh enough on women, Ryan’s record and hateful proposals to set women back to the conservative ideal of 1950s home-bound women should invigorate their fantasy dreams of Ozzie and Harriet.
Ryan and Romney both support a pro-death agenda for poor women regardless of their age. In fact each man proposes drastic cuts to programs that inordinately affect low-income women whether it is simple contraception, cancer screenings, cuts to programs that help lift women out of poverty, or heating, housing, and food assistance that keeps young and retirement-age women from the depths of poverty. This Republican ticket is beyond the pale for its proposed austerity measures, but they have singled out women for a dire existence of birthing, low pay, and no opportunity for economic independence. If women thought the 112th Congress and state legislatures were waging an all-out war on their rights, they may look back fondly on this Congress as the enlightenment era after Romney and Ryan finish their pro-death agenda, because that is the message for women. Between restricting access to healthcare, cancer screenings, preventative medicine for women and their children, and the hunger and ill-health for women who outlive men by a wide margin after they are finished gutting Medicare, food stamps, and Social Security, there is nothing pro-life for women in the future under a Romney-Ryan administration.
The good news is that women’s groups were already mobilizing to defeat Romney and his Dark Age position on women’s rights, and now that the most anti-woman man is standing with him, they have renewed their resolve. It is unclear, exactly, what Romney was considering when he chose Paul Ryan as a running mate, but if he was looking for a man to appeal to patriarchal religious fanatics, he certainly won some points. However, Romney was trailing President Obama in support among women already, so it is possible he just wrote off the women’s vote. But if he thinks he just lost their support, he has no idea of how men who are not religious savages feel about how their wives, sisters, and especially mothers will fare under the most pro-death duo in recent memory. Republicans have assaulted women’s rights for the past year-and-a-half, and now women, and the men who love them, finally get the opportunity to strike back and whether they know it or not, there is an angry, intelligent, and organized women’s movement with excellent memories that will end the war on women, and Romney and Ryan’s presidential aspirations, in November.