If You’re Really Pro-Life, You’d Give Up This “Contraception” Idea

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If You’re Really Pro-Life, You’d Give Up This “Contraception” Idea

Amie Newman

Representative Tim Ryan, a co-sponsor of the Ryan-Delauro bill - legislation that seeks to provide funding for a range of programs to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, while supporting women who chose to continue with an unplanned pregnancy - was ousted from Democrats for Life today for not being anti-choice enough.

From Feministing:

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) was removed from the Democrats For Life of America’s advisory board because he supports contraception.

Apparently, DFA was tired of Ryan consistently harping on this crazy idea that the way to prevent unintended pregnancy is by ensuring access to contraception:

“DFLA gave Congressman Ryan ample opportunities to prove he’s committed to protecting life, but he has turned his back on the community at every turn,” said Kristen Day, the Washington, D.C.-based pro-life organization’s executive director.

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What does "ample opportunities to prove he’s committed to protecting life" mean to DFLA? It seems clear that "protecting life" is not about preventing unplanned pregnancy and abortion. According to Ryan, 

“We’re working in Congress with groups that agree with preventative options while [the DFLA] is getting left behind,” Ryan said. “I can’t figure out for the life of me how to stop pregnancies without contraception. Don’t be mad at me for wanting to solve the problem.”

Ryan said he tried to convince officials with Democrats For Life of America, which he referred to today as a “fringe group,” that the use of contraception is needed as part of any plan to reduce unintended pregnancies but that failed.

Jessica at Feministing writes, 

And this is why we call anti-choicers ‘anti-choice’: because they’re not just about making abortion illegal. They don’t women to have access to contraception either – something that 98 percent of American women will use at some point in their lives. Common ground, my ass.

A sentiment I completely understand. But let’s look at Rep. Ryan as a common grounder in this case – a man who has called himself pro-life (though it’s hard to know if he will continue to do so), but for whom access to contraception is clearly an issue worth fighting for. 

Rep. Ryan is a co-sponsor of the Ryan Delauro bill, also called the Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.  The legislation has been monitored by many reproductive health advocates with a wary eye towards whether anti-choicers would support a bill that increases access to contraception via Title X and Medicaid while also increasing the adoption tax credit, increasing support for pregnant students who decide to keep their babies, and increasing support for the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program (assisting lower income families with food, and other necessities). 

I think his removal has the potential to shine a very real light on how extremist many of the anti-choice organizations are. In this case, we now have a legislator who says clearly that he is working in Congress with various groups that can agree that access to contraception is critical. This work will continue with Rep. Ryan while DFA and others insist on sacrificing what most Americans want and need in regards to their sexual and reproductive health, pledging allegiance to rhetoric instead.