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Ryan in the crosshairs of pro-life groups

By David Skolnick

Friday, August 14, 2009

By David Skolnick

It wasn’t that long ago that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan received praise from some of the nation’s leading pro-life groups.

Now Ryan receives anger and scorn from officials with the National Right to Life Committee, the Democrats For Life of America and Ohio Right to Life for his positions on what they consider pro-life issues.

The NRLC, probably the most prominent pro-life organization in the country, has declared war on Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

The group calls Ryan a “pro-life impersonator” and has gone so far to create a Web page — — that links to what it calls “several detailed documents regarding Ryan’s pro-abortion activities.”

The organization also says Ryan has become “a major asset to the pro-abortion lobby.”

The DFLA kicked Ryan off of its national advisory board because “he has turned his back on the [pro-life] community at every turn,” said Kristen Day, its executive director.

“Tim Ryan has completely lost his way regarding the pro-life movement,” added Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life.

So what did Ryan do to cause such backlash from these pro-life organizations?

Ryan said he tried to convince DFLA officials that the use of contraception is needed as part of any plan to reduce unintended pregnancies.

“I can’t figure out for the life of me how to stop pregnancies without contraception. Don’t be made at me for wanting to solve the problem,” Ryan told me last month.

DFLA and NRLC officials say that’s not the reason.

They contend Ryan stopped voting for pro-life issues in 2007, and is serving as a “front man” for the pro-choice movement. Ryan vehemently disagrees with that saying he’s doing everything he can to reduce the number of abortions.

Ryan certainly didn’t endear himself to these organizations by recently proposing a bill — it went nowhere when first introduced in 2006 — to reduce unintended pregnancies by making contraception easier to obtain, provide more aid to women who proceed with unintended pregnancies and expand adoption programs.

Supporters of the bill include the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and NARAL Pro-Choice America, two leading pro-choice groups, as well as the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a pro-life group, and pro-life ministers.

The attacks on Ryan by the pro-life crowd has attracted national attention.

Slate, a left-leaning online magazine, and The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, both published articles earlier this month on the topic.

‘Pro-lie Democrat?’

It should come as no surprise that The Weekly Standard slammed Ryan in an article titled, “A Pro-Lie Democrat?”

As for the Slate piece, it was much, much kinder to Ryan. The article describes the statements of the NRLC’s legislative director’s critique of Ryan as “incoherent.”

Ryan’s voting record on abortion issues is inconsistent based on groups tracking such votes.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL gave Ryan a zero percent in 2006. He got a 100 percent the next year from NARAL and a 43 percent from Planned Parenthood.

The NRLC gave Ryan an 80 percent score for the 2005-06 congressional session and then a zero for 2007-08. He’s got a zero from NRLC so far this year.

The Slate article points out that the total number of votes on the NRLC’s scorecard for 2007, 2008 and 2009 is 10 and they were mostly on stem cells, drug price controls and contraception issues.

It’s been said many times that people shouldn’t talk about politics or religion.

Abortion takes in both of those and Ryan finds himself in the middle of the polarizing debate on this issue.

It shows that one person’s pro-life is another person’s pro-choice.