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August 11, 2012 8:24 pm MST

Ryan: Pro-Personhood, Anti-Reproductive Rights

  • by: naralprochoiceco

(At least he’s not your… oh, wait, he is. – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

All that personhood-dodging by federal candidates who previously gushed about banning abortion and the most commonly used forms of birth control? That’s going to get a lot harder with Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate. The congressman from Wisconsin co-sponsored a federal bill granting recognition of fertilized eggs, the federal equivalent to a constitutional amendment Coloradans already have rejected twice by overwhelming margins and are expected to defeat again should the measure qualify. But Ryan’s anti-reproductive rights record doesn’t stop there.

NARAL Pro-Choice America counts 59 times that Ryan has voted against a woman’s right to choose during his tenure in Washington. The organization spotlights a number of votes Ryan cast that will do little to turn undecided women voters in Romney-Ryan’s favor:

  • Ryan supported a bill that would let women die by allowing hospitals to refuse to provide abortions, even for life-saving medical care

  • Ryan has cast repeated votes to defund Planned Parenthood and the federal Title X program that provides free or low-cost birth control millions of American women; in Colorado alone, Title X is credited with providing more than 46,000 women with birth control just in 2008, largely through county health departments

  • He also voted repeatedly to deny servicewomen the ability to use their own money to pay for abortions in military hospitals (more about U.S. policy regarding servicewomen and abortion)

  • Cosponsoring federal legislation to send doctors to jail for providing some abortions

    Contrary to allegations the War on Women is manufactured, Ryan’s voting record on reproductive rights, when coupled with Romney’s documented attacks on women’s health and rights, shows the Romney-Ryan ticket has little respect for the reproductive health needs women face throughout their lifetimes.

  • Comments

    21 thoughts on “Ryan: Pro-Personhood, Anti-Reproductive Rights

    1. about the “Let Women Die” part:

      “Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy.”

      That’s a special level of crazy. Sure it’ll play great in JeffCo.

      1. My sister ran into this one.  The local Catholic hospital (St. Vincent in OR) refused to carry out a surgery due to complications carrying twins because it would have likely caused sterility for her in the future (this was after the twins were born, so no issues with hurting the actual children).  They invoked the “conscience clause” because she might lose the ability to carry children.  She tried to move to another hospital, but they refused to transfer her.  If she left on her own her insurance would not take care of things because she would have left “AMA.”  So instead, she was forced by the doctors to go on an extreme hormone therapy, which was known to have many harmful consequences (google hormone therapy and you see the links to cancers, heart attacks, strokes, etc.)  

        Lo and behold, four years later my sister has developed breast cancer that, according to her oncologist, is directly related to the hormone treatments that the wonderful Catholic doctors put her on. She may or may not live, but will definitely have to have a double mastectomy and a full year of reconstructive surgeries.  

        Ryan, Pitt and their ilk are free to have their beliefs, but they are not free to do things that potentially cost people their lives (or in my sister’s case, her breasts). Bills like H.R. 358 hurt people who are not trying to get abortions or do anything that would be judged immoral.  In my sister’s case she was married, there were no children currently in the womb, and the surgery could have easily corrected her issues without leading to breast cancer.  The only negative outcome would be the sterility which somehow was against the Catholic moral code.  Better dead than barren from their viewpoint I guess.  I just can’t believe this stuff is happening in 2012.

        1. But like the Priorities USA ad blaming Romney for killing a laid-off steelworker’s wife, you go to far.

          So instead, she was forced by the doctors to go on an extreme hormone therapy, which was known to have many harmful consequences (google hormone therapy and you see the links to cancers, heart attacks, strokes, etc.)

          So her doctors physically subdued her and forced the drugs on her, knowing how bad they were?  Everyone hates evil doctors especially the Catholic ones.  Google The Internet Is Not Your Doctor.

          See also:

          A critique of the Women’s Health Initiative hormone therapy study.

          Women’s health initiative is fundamentally flawed

          Study That Discredited HRT Was Flawed, Experts Say

          I’m not sure how much specifically you know about the “extreme” hormones your sister was given, or what other treatment options she explored, and I can’t render judgement on this case without knowing more of the specifics.  Frankly as a practicing OB/GYN, I can’t even fathom a clinical scenario like what you say your sister went through, that is a surgical treatment with sterility as a potential side-effect (D+C, Uterine artery embolization/ligation, hysterectomy) for which hormones are an adequate substitute, or would need to be given for an extended period of time.

          Regardless, that is the least of my concerns with your comment.  I am disturbed by your blanket condemnation of hormone therapy which is at odds with my knowledge of hormone replacement therapy.  It is not right for everyone, and there are many different regimens which may be individualized to a particular patient.  But the 6″ high headlines from the WHI screaming HRT will kill you by stroke/heart attack/breast cancer have poisoned the well, ignoring the known deleterious biological properties of the hormones used in that study (Horse estrogen + Provera) which are not shared by other formulations which are closer/identical to natural human hormones.

          Women benefit from hormone replacement. Not all of them and not the same way. Did you catch this news out of the WHI?

          Study Finds Estrogen Replacement Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer For Some Women

          Ryan sucks on women’s reproductive health, as does the Personhood movement, and most of the Republican agenda, but if you want to claim it threatens women’s lives (it does) make sure you know what you’re talking about.

        2. Your understanding of Catholic doctrine sucks (or that of the hospital administrators did.)

          Indirect abortions are legitimate under the doctrine of double effect.  You can give a pregnant woman chemo to save her life knowing it will kill her fetus, but that is not it’s intended effect.

          1. In a bid to stay civil here are the details of what is taking place in my family.  

            –  After giving birth to her twins and being home for a few weeks my sister suffered some form of extreme pain and bleeding and was sent to St. Vincent’s via ambulance.  She was admitted for care.

            – While there the doctor in the ER who originally was assigned to her indicated he wanted to have her undergo surgery to correct things.  

            – A second doctor came in on the case and overruled the first doctor saying that the surgery would cause sterility.  My sister and her husband said it was fine, they were done having kids anyway.  Given that I was not there, I can only tell you what she told me, which is that the two doctors argued in the room with her and that the second doctor and her husband had a very large argument over the surgery as well.  

            –  Doctor 1 told my sister to get transferred to a different hospital.  Doctor 2 refused to transfer her saying that being released could cause more harm.  He only would send her to another hospital if she paid up front to have an ambulance take her from hospital 1 to hospital 2.  So, if she got up and left in with her husband, she would be AMA.  Her husband contacted her insurance (blue cross-blue shield).  If she went AMA, they would stop paying for things.  So, while doctor two did not physically hold her down, she was forced to stay or pay for everything out of pocket.  

            –  They stayed and went with the course of treatment that Doctor 2 ordered.  Doctor 2 specifically cited his faith in his refusal to send her to surgery.  Hospital administrators backed his call during the follow up complaint investigation.  However, the State of Oregon Licensing agency did not agree and did find that doctor 2 went too far in the investigation they did.  I want to stress here that there was no lawsuit involved in any of this.  My sister does not believe in suing doctors for money, she just wanted everything on the guys history so she went to the license board.

            –  Now, 4 years later, my sister is currently being treated for breast cancer.  Her oncologist and his partner have directly said in written documentation that they have sent in to the license board as a follow up to the original complaint, that her treatment is the likely cause of her cancer.  Genetic testing came back negative, she does not smoke, drink, etc.  Her cancer docs did every test they could think of, but found no reason that she would have developed the form of breast cancer she has outside of high exposure to hormone treatments.  That is their conclusion, not mine, and in their review or her records they felt her treatment from St. Vincent was bad enough that they ethically had to file complaints on the doc from St. Vincent.  My sister did not request it, and again it is not part of a lawsuit, so there is no money drive here.

            You can say I go too far as much as you want.  But what has happened here from my family’s perspective is 1) a doctor felt empowered enough by his faith and the “conscience” rules under Bush that he made a medical decision to not offer a treatment to a women who was brought to the hospital as a matter of chance 2) when a complaint was filed, the Catholic hospital backed that decision 3) the state of Oregon did not and 4) outside doctors who have no dog in the fight have determined that the original action is the likely cause of the current illness and they are so sure of this that they asked my sister permission to file their own complaint (basically they told her they wanted to and she said yes…so quasi-permission)…For me this all traces back to that first piece, a doctor who felt his faith could be applied to someone who was not Catholic and who was taken to his hospital just because it was the best at the time for the ambulance to get to.  I’m not trying to attack doctors in general or say that all people of faith or Catholics are evil…but when you force your faith on someone else through the medical treatments you offer, there has to be a way to opt out.  Because of the AMA thing, my sister had not way out.  The doctor would not release her and they could not afford medical transport to another hospital where she could get the surgery.  

            1. I don’t support conscience rules and I support patients’ rights to get whatever appropriate treatment their values deem appropriate, not their caregivers.  Referrals/transfers to providers who can provide the needed services should be available.

              Doctor #2 is wrong on doctrine.  Interventions which have an incidental effect which would be proscribed if it were the intended effect are allowed if the intended effect is beneficial.  It’s worth continuing this complaint up the hierarchy at the hospital and its owners to make this clear to that doc, and everyone at that hospital.

              Insurance Companies Refusing Payment for Patients Who Leave the Emergency Department Against Medical Advice is a Myth


              I also thought it important to go to the source: I called the insurance companies themselves. I talked with VPs and media relations people from several of the nation’s largest private insurance carriers.

              Each of them told me that the idea of a patient leaving AMA and having to foot their bill is bunk: nothing more than a medical urban legend.

              They were glad to tell me so, as this was a rare occasion of insurance companies looking magnanimous. One director went so far as to poll his company’s own medical directors-a half dozen of them-and found that several of them had been taught and believed the canard about AMA discharge and financial responsibility. He was happy to set the record straight.

              So patients and doctors beware: The next time you or your loved one has decided that it’s time to leave the hospital, don’t let us doctors coerce you into staying by threatening you with the bill.

              It simply isn’t true that leaving against medical advice makes it fall entirely upon your pocketbook.


              February 3, 2012

              There are ways in which patients who leave the hospital against medical advice wind up paying for that decision. Being saddled with the full cost of their hospital stay, however, is not one of them.

              Insurance companies know this. Patients who walk out may know this. But many physicians, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, do not.

              A survey of general internal medicine doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine found that two-thirds of residents and almost half of attending physicians believe that when a patient leaves the hospital against medical advice, insurance companies will not pay for the patient’s hospitalization, leaving the patient liable for the full hospital bill.

              “We have all heard this, and many physicians may have passed it on to their students, even to patients threatening to leave on their own,” said study author Vineet Arora, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. “But a closer look revealed this to be a myth, a medical urban legend, albeit a pervasive one.”


              My mother died of cancer.  A cancer which she was the wrong age, gender, ethnicity, etc. to get.  Her clinical course was also atypical.  Not every disease has an obvious cause, and if it were so obvious that the treatment she got was the cause of her cancer she should sue.  Is she the first patient her oncologists have ever seen that had no explanation for her illness?  I bet not.

              Even Provera, the hormone responsible for the 30% increased risk in breast cancer in the WHI would need to be given to 1200 women to cause 1 extra case of breast cancer per year.  It’s just not so clear cut.

              I wish your family the best in this terrible situation.  Your sister got some crappy treatment.  There’s a lot to blame Catholics for, but I’m not convinced her cancer is included in that.

              1. that take advantage of patient anxiety and misinformation in order to force patients into unwise and unwanted procedures should certainly be taken down. It’s unfortunate that conscience laws provide a loophole for unethical behavior– they’re the Stand Your Ground of the medical world.  

              2. First of all you have an agenda and I have problems with a doctor posting on a political blog and mixing medical facts, medical opinion and a personal political agenda.

                1) You say you are for “choice,” but anytime a person here or in a report cited here, chooses to call a fetus a child or “her child” or the family calls the fetus “our child”you go on the attack. Everyone must agree with your terminology,regardless of their personal “choice.”

                2) You  don’t support conscience rules.


                Interventions which have an incidental effect which would be proscribed if it were the intended effect are allowed if the intended effect is beneficial.  It’s worth continuing this complaint up the hierarchy at the hospital and its owners to make this clear to that doc, and everyone at that hospital.

                Cite your source.  Cite the Catholic doctrine manual that has the Bishop’s stamp of approval.

                The person reporting the incident with her mother was very specific….citing a hospital in Oregon and a specific insurance company.  Yet, you “called around,” but chose not to cite Oregon Blue Cross Blue Shield as being one of those insurance companies.  You also did not investigate the complaints filed in ORegon against the hospital.

                Finally, please cite the peer reviewed study that concluded that  

                the known deleterious biological properties of the hormones used in that study (Horse estrogen + Provera) which are not shared by other formulations which are closer/identical to natural human hormones.

                1. dwyer, you think I have a personal vendetta against you, when it’s really just irritation at the stupid shit you write on a consistent basis.

                  First of all you have an agenda and I have problems with a doctor posting on a political blog and mixing medical facts, medical opinion and a personal political agenda.

                  I guess I’ll just cancel my account here since you object.

                  Wait, hold on a second, not so quick.  

                  More than 30 years ago the resurgent Republican Party and its president, empowered by conservative Christians, decided that women’s reproductive rights was an area due for greater legislative restriction.  Thus was born my pro-choice political leaning, long before I even knew what I as going to do with my life.  Later, when choosing a medical specialty, part of the appeal of being an OB/Gyn was the ability to put my political money where my mouth was and be an abortion provider, at some risk to life and limb.

                  You have a problem with me mixing my medical knowledge with my opinions on medical science  and politics?  

                  Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

                  Here’s a hint for you.  Those blue things in the body of my posts, they’re called links.  Click them and they’ll take you to a lot of the answers you’re looking for, or take it up with Thomas Aquinas.  The things in boxes, they’re quotations of things other people have written, and I’ve provided the links to them.  I can’t search the Oregon medical board site without the name of a patient to reference the complaint, and if I knew it posting it here would be a violation of privacy; against federal law.

                  One of the appeals of science and medicine is the precision of language it offers. Distal, medial, visceral, musculoskeletal, etc.  The specialty of high-risk Obstetrics is called Maternal-Fetal-Medicine, not Maternal-Pediatric-Medicine.  A fetus is not a child, no matter how much you might want it to be some day.  Correcting someone’s language is not an attack.

                  No, I don’t ask my pregnant patients how their fetus is doing, and if they miscarry I console them on the loss of their baby. Children are fetuses who have been born: “Unborn child”, makes as much sense as “undead corpse.”  Are you a zombie, dwyer?  

                  We are talking about the difference between medical, colloquial, and political language and each has its place. Those who would restrict women’s reproductive options equate fertilized eggs with you and me, and a powerful way to do that in public speaking is to call them babies or children, which they are not.  Calling a fetus an unborn child is a piece of political speaking akin to saying “Death Tax” instead of “estate” or “inheritance tax”, or saying “Job Creator” instead of “Asshole so rich he can buy an elevator for his Cadillacs.”

                  Conscience laws offer protections well beyond what religious doctrine would dictate, as the case described above illustrates.  The religious dogma of the institution cited above would allow this procedure to happen, in my (obviously worthless and mis-placed) opinion, yet the physician was allowed to be guided by his conscience, protected by Bush-era conscience laws, in mistreating the patient.  What if a hypothetical doctor felt, guided by his conscience, that blacks were not entitled to medical care and refused to treat them?  There’s no religious freedom argument to be made here.  Protecting individual conscience must be done in narrowly tailored ways in which no-one is forced to do something that violates their beliefs, but still makes sure that patients have access to the full range of appropriate, legal medical options that she wants to access, not those her provider chooses for her.

                  Your last quotation of me is not a sentence, and as such, I’ll let you do your own homework. Here’s a hint: What’s found in pregnant mare urine might not be so good for human breasts.


                  Physiological data and clinical outcomes demonstrate that bioidentical hormones are associated with lower risks, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more efficacious than their synthetic and animal-derived counterparts. Until evidence is found to the contrary, bioidentical hormones remain the preferred method of HRT.


                  1. dwyer, you think I have a personal vendetta against you, when it’s really just irritation at the stupid shit you write on a consistent basis.

                    You don’t know what the hell I think unless I tell you.

                    I have never said that “I think you have a personal vendetta against me.”  Many times when I post an argument on the political use of abortion as a wedge issue, there is a “blog pile on” from many posters…and there usually is a personal attack rather than a response to the arguments I raise or as you call it ” stupid shit.” An impressive grasp of technical language, doctor. The argument I make that seems to enrage you the most is that the movement to make abortion a states rights issue and not a matter of federal civil rights is part of an overall strategy to rewrite the 14th amendment and/or to reduce the federal government’s ability to protect the civil rights of all citizens regardless of what state they live in.  You may disagree with that argument, or just call it “stupid shit,” if that helps you feel better, doctor.

                    What words people use seem to be a big issue with you, doctor.  Most lay people call a fetus a baby.  If that  makes you come unglued, TS, doctor, TS.

                    Moving on, there is also a “blog pile on” when I state that in my opinion the dems have not done well in getting their message out.

                    1. You said that I seem to take some special pleasure in criticizing you, as if it were my life’s work.  Maybe you don’t remember writing that, but you did.

                      “Stupid shit” would be stating that you have a problem with anyone expressing an opinion in their area of passion and expertise, and then reiterating that opinion without elaborating on why they should withhold their opinions.  

                      I’m enraged by stupid shit, not your 14th amendment arguments, a topic which is debatable, and one upon which we disagree.  If this is the crux of Republican anti-choice efforts, why the federal human life bill?

                      What words people use matters to me because words are what political operatives use to get elected.  Was I not clear enough above?

                      “The rich should pay their fair share.” v. “The rich should not be penalized for their success by confiscatory tax rates.”  “Title X  allows poor women to responsibly manage their reproductive health.” v. “Title X is a federal subsidy for poor people to have sex.”  “Environmental protections keep communities and families healthy” v. “Federal regulations kill jobs.”

                      The words you use to make an argument frame how you discuss the argument.  Everybody likes babies and children, so if you discuss reproductive freedom as being against babies and children, you’re already losing.

                      This is a blog about politics and laws.  Politically/legally, as well as medically/scientifically, fetuses are not people.  I didn’t decide that, Justice Blackmun did in Roe v. Wade.  I have no problem about people talking about babies in their home lives or their doctors offices, but if your goal is to politically advance reproductive freedom, chosing the right words advances your cause.

                      1. It does represent a shift in republican posturing, if the bill is actually put to a vote.  What the republicans have done since 1994, whenever they have been in the majority in the House or Senate, is introduce a Human Life Amendment and then refer it to committee where it always died, without a vote.

                        If the House votes on the federal human life bill, that would represent a shift in the political strategy and would indicate that it is felt that a vote for outlawing abortion is not political suicide.  My bet is that the bill goes to committee and dies.

                        A federal law will NOT outlaw abortion.  Roe v. Wade is part of the constitutional and cannot be overturned by a mere federal law.  Roe v. Wade can only be overturned by another Supreme Court decision or by the passage of an Human Life Amendment.

                        Maybe if protecting reproductive rights is your real goal, you should have gone to law school, not medical school.

                        I have never argued that babies before birth are persons.  Personhood begins with the first breath and with that, all civil rights apply.

                        But when there is a discussion on medical care or reproductive issues and the lay person says “baby” and you jump all over the terminology, it, IMHO, detracts from the discussion at hand.

                      2. Then why is it you have a problem with doctors with political agendas expressing their informed opinions?

                        Who else shouldn’t be expressing their expertly informed opinions?

                        If I’m qualified to testify in court as an expert on medical opinions in my specialty, why not on Coloradopols?

        3. And is exactly why women’s medical care should NOT be a private conversation between her husband, priest and sometimes physician.

          Women should get to decide for themselves.


    2. To paraphrase a Buck supporter who was such a whiner that’s not what he’s running on

      Until we made that what he had to run on.

      Good diary.

      Can you interview the CO PP, or NARAL?

      Or get to Coffman and Gardner to ask our federal candidates if they support the federal personhood law since the state deal is beneath them?


      #5: it’s working!

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