U.S. Rep. Ryan clears air on his abortion stand, counters woman’s claims


U.S. Rep. Ryan clears air on his abortion stand, counters woman’s claims

EDITOR:

In a July 14 article in The Vindicator, Kristen Day of Democrats for Life questioned the consistency of my record on the issue of abortion. Ms. Day made a number of misleading comments and accusations against me that distort my record as a conscientious pro-life member of Congress, and I want to set the record straight.

On the issue of abortion, I advocate a path that would bring together all who care deeply about the issue whether they are pro-life or pro-choice. Together, we seek to reduce the number of abortions in our nation while reducing the rancor and acrimony that can too often lead to tragedy — such as the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller.

But that does not mean my beliefs have changed (as Kristen Day has asserted). My voting record remains consistent. I have voted in favor of parental notification laws, for the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, against abortion in federally-funded military medical facilities, for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, against partial-birth abortion, and against human cloning.

I stand by all those votes and, in addition, I recently sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi explaining that I will not support a health-reform bill unless it prohibits taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions (an amendment to the health-reform bill was subsequently adopted that implemented my suggestion).

I believe that for elected leaders like myself who oppose abortion, it’s not enough to say what we’re against; we must say what we are for. That is why I introduced the “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act,” which offers common-ground policy solutions to reduce abortions by addressing the root causes.

It has two policy tracks: preventing unintended pregnancies and providing support for women who do become pregnant. The bill is backed by a broad coalition of pro-life and pro-choice supporters never before assembled. Kristen Day’s Democrats for Life chose not to support the bill because her group does not support provisions in the bill that help low-income women prevent unintended pregnancies by accessing low-cost contraceptives. Her group chose to support a different bill focused solely on supporting pregnant women, but it does not include provisions to help prevent unintended pregnancies.

I remained convinced (and all the data supports the claim) that for meaningful reductions in abortion, there must be a contraception component included to prevent unintended pregnancies. Four out of 10 unintended pregnancies end in abortion, and 57 percent of abortions are performed on women who live at or below 200 percent of the poverty line. Thus, we can’t reduce abortions without preventing unintended pregnancies and providing support for low-income women. My legislation does both.

Lastly, Ms. Day accused me of supporting a bill that allows public funding of abortion. That accusation is deliberately misleading. What I voted for was a large appropriations bill, a portion of which allowed Washington, D.C., residents to determine for themselves how they want to spend their own locally-generated, non-federal tax revenue. The bill did not tell Washington, D.C., residents what to do with their own money, and no federal funds were ever at stake.

I intend to continue to work with my colleagues who share my belief that there is a way to reduce the number of abortions in this country and welcome all who care about this issue — regardless of their stance— to join with us.

Tim Ryan

U.S. Representative 17th Congressional District Niles