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Opinion: Paul Ryan And The War on Women

The Buck Starts Here

If you like the GOP war on women, you are going to love Paul Ryan. After all, Ryan's record on women's health could easily be mistaken for one of W. Mitt Romney's primary opponents, Rick Santorum.

Best known for his path to end Medicare and less well known for his path to privative Social Security, Ryan has been in Congress for over a decade. While in Congress he managed to pass two laws: the renaming of a post office and a new tax scheme for arrows.

From a branding stand point, Ryan is associated with issues that seem to distinguish his record from Santorum's.

But there is something else Paul Ryan is gaining notoriety for, his sponsorship of federal legislation to declare that human life begins at fertilization. "Personhood", as it is called by its proponents, has failed on every state ballot because of its extreme nature.

"Personhood" would outlaw all abortions, even in the cases of rape, incest and threats to a woman's health. "Personhood" also criminalizes many forms of birth control, including the pill (which is the most popular form of birth control). It also threatens couples going through in vitro fertilization with criminal charges should something happen to the resulting embryos – or as Ryan would say, the resulting people.

Like Santorum, Paul Ryan favors federal legislation that would force women seeking an abortion to go through a medical procedure, a forced ultrasound, regardless of whether they want it or their doctor says that it is necessary.

Additionally, Ryan voted for the "let women die" bill which would allow hospitals to refuse to provide a woman emergency, lifesaving abortion care, even if she could die without it.

Ryan voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood and uses the budget as a way to attack women's access to health care by decimating Medicaid and reducing the access to health care for millions of low income Americans.

Currently, 21 million low income women count on Medicaid for basic health care. It means the difference between getting cancer screenings and birth control or going without – one in ten women of reproductive age relies on Medicaid for her health care needs.

Ryan also uses his budget to reduce access to women's health care. He would bar Planned Parenthood from participating in federal programs like Medicaid, denying access to preventive care for millions of women that have no other access to medical treatment.

The Ryan Budget also calls for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act which requires insurance coverage for preventive services like mammograms, cancer screenings, and birth control, with no co-pays. The law also bans insurance companies from discriminating between men and women and bans the practice of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy.

None of these positions are in conflict with W. Mitt Romney's. Over the past year Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Romney endorsed the Ryan Budget and its couponing scheme for Medicare and destruction of Medicaid. Romney also fully endorsed "personhood" during the primaries.

What Romney acquired in the selection of Paul Ryan was a long track record in Washington on these issues.

An issue that was dormant after the primaries was resurrected. Don't expect it to fall from the national conversation in the next 12 weeks. The margin of victory by Democrats with women voters has the potential to sink not only the GOP Presidential ticket but Senate and House races as well.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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