Soon-to-be former Speaker Paul Ryan has one of the most extreme positions on women’s reproductive healthcare in modern politics. As much as his fetishist love of Ayn Rand should make him opposed to government intervention, Ryan believes the government has an obligation to crawl up inside your uterus and plant an American flag like it’s the fucking moon.
He believes government management of women’s bodies isn’t irreconcilable with small government conservatism in his essay “The Cause of Life Can’t Separated From the Cause of Freedom.” Amidst all the babble of the sanctity of human life, Ryan never once says “women,” “woman,” “female,” “girl,” “chick,” “lady,” or any gendered noun that would imply he cares one bit about the “humans” (who may or may not be female) over whose bodies he wants sovereign rule.
When Rep. Todd Akin referred to “legitimate rape” in 2012, Paul Ryan rushed to distance himself from the comments. But in 2010 and 2011, Akin and Ryan co-sponsored a bill that limited federal funding for abortion to victims of “forcible rape,” phrasing that implies Akin’s original intent of distinguishing violent, penetrative rape from other forms of rape, including statutory rape. That’s a surprise, considering how much conservatives love instigating moral panics over protecting the children. But Ryan and his cohorts probably believe in forcing a 13-year-old girl to carry a pregnancy to term. They’re likely to think an early-life pregnancy will toughen her up and encourage her to pull herself up by her bootstraps and avoid being one of those lazy middle schoolers feeding off the government teat.
When Obama mandated that insurance providers cover women’s contraception, even through religious hospitals, Ryan vehemently opposed the move. Of course, Ryan’s views on reproductive rights are so draconian that he supports jailing doctors who perform partial-birth abortions (and has been suspiciously vague about jailing the women who receive them).
Ryan has voted for and co-sponsored legislation that would define human life as starting from fertilization. The Protect Life Act and the Sanctity of Life Act would both have criminalized all abortion, some birth control and even some forms of in vitro fertilization. The Protect Life Act would also let religious hospitals refuse to perform an abortion even if the woman’s life is at stake.
Of course, Paul Ryan is hardly the only hardcore conservative bent on restricting women’s access to healthcare and punishing them for having sex or even for being raped. Still, he has one of the most absolute positions on the issue. His retirement is a beacon of hope for every woman who has ever needed an abortion, Plan B, birth control or any other form of healthcare involving her nether regions.