News Abortion

How Anti-Choice Is Paul Ryan? Check the Record

Robin Marty

For well over a week, both sides have been parsing Ryan's abortion stance. Why is a man so openly anti-choice so unwilling to admit his actual positions?

Rep. Paul Ryan is against abortion, no exceptions. Paul Ryan would allow an exception for rape. Ryan doesn’t believe in birth control. Ryan only has three children, he must believe in birth control. Ryan is pro-life “from conception to natural death.”

Ever since the moment Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the media has been picking intricately through votes and statements in an attempt to nail down just exactly what it is that Ryan means when he says he’s “never going to not vote pro-life.” It’s been hard to pin—for every vote restricting a woman’s right to chose, there is an explanation provided by another right-wing columnist saying that you can’t “prove” it really means he stands where it appears he stands. With so much media attention paid to his draconian budget in the last two years, few reporters spent nearly the same detail pinning down exactly what he believed when it comes to reproductive rights.

There’s a reason for that, and that is how Ryan’s couches his own language when it comes to reproductive rights—language that allows everyone to see what they want to see. By saying he would “never not vote pro-life,” he has it both ways—supporters can say that he supports forcing women to give birth regardless of the circumstances, yet when opponents say he would do that, they point to his lack of public statements to support that argument.

It’s the “hiding in plain sight” theory. There is no reference to abortion as an issue on Ryan’s campaign website, and only one news clipping even mentioning it in his media section. He speaks of “moral fabric” and a need to return God to the public square, but avoids saying outright what falls into the moral categories that need to be renewed.

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For those who support abortion rights, it’s easy to look at the votes he has cast and the bills he has cosponsored and say that clearly, Ryan is an opponent of abortion in all situations. After all, he cosposored the “forcible rape” bill, the “let her die” act and has a perfect record with National Right to Life.

Opponents disagree. If they choose, they could cast his numerous votes to ban funding and access for abortion as just a sign of his fiscal hawkishness, a vote to protect the conscience of those who are religious, or a fight to protect the fetus being carried by its mother if the mother is a victim of a crime.

So who is right, and why is it so hard to discern?

Here are the things we know for sure:

In 1999, Ryan voted for “An amendment to prohibit any funds to be used by the FDA for the testing, development, or approval (including approval of production, manufacturing, or distribution) of any drug for the chemical inducement of abortion.” He spent the next few years voting for numerous funding restrictions for abortions, as well as “fetal protection” acts that were allegedly about adding additional punishments when crimes against a mother resulting in harm to a baby, but instead laid the groundwork for pregnant women themselves being charged with crimes.

In 2005, Ryan was part of the House group that felt they should interject on behalf of Terri Schiavo and keep her on feeding tubes despite her previously stated wishes to not continue in a vegetative state indefinitely. 

“A core purpose of our government is to defend the lives of its citizens, including those who are severely disabled. Terri Schiavo deserves this protection and, at the very least, her parents deserve the right to ask a federal court to review their daughter’s tragic case and consider whether her rights are being upheld.”

“Terri Schiavo is not being kept alive by extraordinary means. She is brain damaged and needs help taking in food and drink. And she would not be undergoing a ‘dying process’ if her food and water were not being withheld. Her life is precious and her rights – and her parents’ rights – should be respected.”

The vote and his statement would add even more credence to the idea that Ryan does indeed agree with the principles of “protecting life from the moment of conception until natural death.”

In 2006, Ryan voted for a ban on allowing pregnant teens to travel to another state without parental consent in order to receive an abortion. The bill provided “exceptions for life-threatening or medical emergencies, cases where the minor declares in a written statement that she is the victim of abuse by a parent and the abortion provider informs the appropriate state authorities of such abuse, and certain other narrowly defined circumstances.” Could this then mean that Ryan would support exceptions in other bans? Once again, it’s impossible to tell, though it must be said that these kinds of “exceptions” are, in real life, not exceptions at all.

Also in 2006, Ryan was a cosponsor of a “fetal pain” bill that would require doctors to tell women that a fetus could feel pain at 20 weeks and that she might want to provide drugs for the fetus during an abortion to stop its pain. The law was similar to one that was signed into law by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2003. The federal version didn’t pass.

After the 2008 election and Republican losses, Ryan implied that it was time to move off of social issues and focus on more economically bold ones instead.

“We’ve done some good things on social conservatism. We banned partial-birth abortion. We got good judges. We defended marriage. We’ve been strong on national defense. Where we fell down is on fiscal conservatism and on economic liberty. We’ve washed that tenet out of our party. What we have to do is go back to our basics and become that reform party again, become the party of ideas again.”

He then rejected his own advice, and in 2009, Ryan supported a Pro-Life Wisconsin campaign to stop allowing abortions at the University of Wisconsin health center in Madison.

“Such a flagrant disrespect for the rights of the unborn is deeply troubling,” added Ryan. “Should University of Wisconsin officials follow through on this effort to compromise the value of human life, it is imperative that the conscience rights of pro-life employees are fully protected. This is an altogether troubling proposition.”

Due to the fears of safety for staff and patients after ceaseless protests and attention from anti-choice groups, the school eventually decided not to open the center.

Despite being a hero to anti-choice Republicans who take a hard line when it comes to abortion, in 2009 Ryan publicly tried to distance himself from the extremists, telling Nora McDonnell on MSNBC in that tent is big enough for everyone, :

MS. O’DONNELL: Congressman, I have two other questions about the future of the Republican Party. The first involves the chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele. He has given an interview with GQ Magazine in which he was asked about abortion. And the interviewer asked, “Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?” And Steele responded, “Yeah, I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.” Does that cause a problem for your party when the chairman says, “I think that’s an individual choice”?

REP. RYAN: We are a big-tent party. I am personally pro-life. I am a pro-life legislator. Michael Steele may be pro-choice. We are a big-tent party. We don’t have a 16-point litmus test that you have to pass to get into the Republican Party. If you believe in the American ideal — self-determination, freedom, liberty, limited government, free enterprise — we want you in our party.

MS. O’DONNELL: Really? There’s not a problem when the chairman of the Republican Party is pro-choice?

REP. RYAN: No. We have plenty of pro-choice Republicans in our party. There are pro-choice Republicans in Congress. There are pro- choice Republicans that I represent in Wisconsin. We are a big-tent party.

I’m pro-life, Michael Steele is pro-choice, and you know what? We both fit within the tent of the Republican Party.

Soon after, however, he won back his rigid anti-choice street cred by voting against the 2010 appropriations bill because it allowed D.C. to fund abortions for low income women:

Mr. Chair, after careful consideration of H.R. 3170, it is with great regret that I announce my opposition to this bill as a result of its careless disregard for human life.

Historically, there has been a restriction on government-funded abortion in Washington, DC. Language known as the Dornan Amendment, which prohibited both federally and locally appropriated funds from being used to pay for abortions, has always been adopted in prior-year versions of H.R. 3170. However, in a break from this longstanding tradition, the majority chose instead to include language that does not prohibit local taxpayer funding for abortion services. In effect, Congress is breaking with history and allowing taxpayer funded abortions where they were previously prohibited.

In short, I really hoped to take this opportunity to support our nation’s auto dealers. Because H.R. 3170 effectively legalized taxpayer-funded abortion services, I could not support it.

Once the battle over health care reform began, and House Republicans especially began campaigning on opposing the Affordable Care Act, Ryan’s religiously-toned health care opposition sprung free. He publicly denounced the plan on his website in a press release that read in part:

Higher taxes and higher premiums aren’t the only poison pills in this massive overhaul. Many Wisconsin taxpayers have raised concerns at the fact that their tax dollars will be used to fund and subsidize abortions as a result of this legislation. Legitimate concerns persist with the legislation’s lack of safeguards with respect to the conscience rights of religiously-affiliated hospitals and pro-life doctors and nurses.

Like many Republicans, he supported the Stupak/Pitts amendment codifying Hyde that would undermine the ability for women of all income levels to get access to affordable terminations, despite the fact that he obviously opposed passing the Affordable Care Act in the first place.

Mr. Speaker, this is perhaps the worst bill I have seen come to the floor in my 11 years of serving in Congress, and what would make this bill worse is if we break with the long-standing law of preventing abortions from being funded with taxpayer dollars.

For those of us who support the protection of and the sanctity of life, the only vote, the right vote, the vote to keep a clean conscience is a “yes” vote for the Stupak amendment.

Soon after he was battling the bill itself, then decried the executive order that maintained Hyde, even going as far as to say that it didn’t matter what Catholic nuns believed about taxpayer funding of abortions, only the bishops.

The bishops are the authority, and the bishops say… I’m a Catholic. Let me tell you, the bishops are the authority, not the hospital administrators… And they say this funds abortion.

If the bishops are the authority, than it is probably no coincidence that his opposition to no co-pay birth control in insurance plans sounds remarkably like a press release from the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops:

The Contraception Mandate as an Infringement on Religious Liberty
The law gives the power to the Department of Health and Human Services to literally mandate what we can and cannot have. The whole issue is not necessarily about sterilization, abortion drugs, and contraception – it’s that the government is mandating that we all buy coverage of these services. This is coverage that we have to pay for, even if it violates our religious freedom, our religious liberty and our conscience. It’s a law that treats our constitutional rights as revocable privileges by our government, not inalienable rights by our creator.

Following this up with his recent votes for everything from defunding Planned Parenthood to banning abortion at 20 weeks post fertilization in D.C., and it would seem based on his votes and public statements that he does believe in “life from conception to natural death” and that he would outlaw all abortions with no exception for rape, incest or health of the mother.  Still the question doesn’t seem completely settled.

Abortion rights supporters say that his previous vote on a “no exceptions” late abortion ban, the so-called “partial birth” abortion ban, means that he does not believe in exceptions ever. Ryan apologists claim that he has never stated he would ban abortion in all cases, and his support of “personhood” bills is simply an affirmation that the issue of whether abortion should be legal or not should be returned to the states.

Can Ryan have it both ways?

Polifact tries to give him cover. At the same time that they report that both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the the National Right to Life Committee agree that the only exception Ryan supports is in the case of the “life of the mother” being at risk, they also point out that the “Sanctity of Human Life” bill that Ryan supported in 2011 doesn’t actually do any banning of abortion.

That’s true. More likely to actually ban abortion would have been another bill sponsored that year, called the “Life At Conception” Act.  It too declared “life” began at fertilization, but that there was a right to life from that point on.

To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of the Congress, including Congress’ power under article I, section 8, to make necessary and proper laws, and Congress’ power under section 5 of the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. However, nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.

Although anti-choice luminaries like Congressman Steve King of Iowa, or Congressman Akin of Missouri sponsored the bill, Ryan did not. That bill never made it out of committee.

Confused yet? You should be. The language of the “Life at Conception Act” is identical to that of a 2007 bill called “The Right to Life Act.” That bill, like the “Life at Conception Act,” was sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, too. Unlike its later counterpart, Ryan signed on as a cosponsor one year later.

We may not be entirely sure where Ryan stands at this moment, but anti-choice activists have absolutely no doubt that Ryan is in fact their “pro-life” hero. CatholicVotes announced their endorsement of the Romney/Ryan ticket, saying, “Paul Ryan will be the first pro-life Catholic to appear on a Republican presidential ticket since Roe v. Wade. Paul Ryan understands his faith. He understands Catholic social teaching, and prays and works to apply his faith to the practice of politics, including his economic and budget proposals.”

Exactly what are those social teachings?  Well, it comes as no surprise that CatholicVote does not believe in abortion in any instance, including for victims of rape.  “The rapist… is forever guilty of rape. The child conceived as a result of the rape was not guilty of the crime. The child did no wrong. The child ought not get the death penalty for his father’s rape.” but once again, Ryan is endorsed by supporters who claim he feels the same way, but avoids saying as much himself.

“As for Ryan’s current views, there is no indication they have changed but Ryan campaign aides declined to talk publicly about his position,” writes Politifact. “Since entering Congress, Ryan has focused on budget and fiscal issues so his views on abortion and social issues have not received much attention.”

Perhaps it’s time we make Ryan himself and his aides talk, and really put his honest, open views out into the public arena once and for all.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”