Paul Ryan's anti-abortion rights record a target for Obama camp
Supporters of reproductive rights have loudly pointed out that this type of legislation would not only outlaw abortion but potentially some forms of contraception or even in vitro fertilization. Personhood initiatives are so extreme that even card-carrying conservatives like former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have expressed concerns that they go too far, and the National Right to Life has refrained from taking an official position on the matter.
In a 2010 essay, Ryan laid out his thoughts on personhood, arguing that just as the Supreme Court erred in its 1857 Dred Scott decision by declaring that Africans and African-Americans did not qualify for human rights, the high court erred in denying fetuses human rights in Roe v. Wade.
As the Daily Beast notes, Ryan won his 1998 congressional campaign in part by emphasizing his opposition to abortion and did not support exceptions for a woman's life or health in the partial-birth abortion ban.
The Obama campaign has seized on that particular issue. Over the weekend, President Obama sent out a set of messages via Twitter, writing, "Make sure the women in your life know: Paul Ryan supports banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest." The Romney campaign says that Ryan does believe some exceptions can be made by families and their doctor when the life of the mother is at risk.
Nevertheless, the president clearly wants to use reproductive rights to shore up his already remarkably large lead among women voters in key states. In 2008, 53 percent of voters were women, making female voters a key a group.
There's some evidence to suggest the president's plan could work. A poll from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation released in May found that 31 percent of women in the U.S. believe there is a broad effort to limit women's reproductive health choices and services. Last year, the pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America commissioned a poll of women in swing states who supported Mr. Obama in 2008 but may not this year. The poll found that those women largely support abortion rights and that highlighting his stance on reproductive rights could help the president with those women.
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