Ryan falls short of some ‘pro-life’ standards

RYAN FALLS SHORT OF SOME ‘PRO-LIFE’ STANDARDS…. Rep. Tim Ryan (D) of Ohio has always been an opponent on abortion rights. Just this week, he was one of five House Democrats to side with congressional Republicans on preventing funding for abortion as part of health care reform.

It’s tempting to think, then, that Ryan would be a key ally for Democratic groups opposed to abortion rights. But it seems that’s not the case.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has been, in his words, “booted” from the national advisory board of Democrats For Life of America. The group’s mission is to elect and support pro-life Democrats; Ryan served on the board for four years but the relationship had recently soured when he co-sponsored the “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act”:

“Ryan said he tried to convince officials with Democrats For Life of America, which he referred to Monday as a ‘fringe group,’ that the use of contraception is needed as part of any plan to reduce unintended pregnancies but that failed.”

It’s a reminder of why searching for compromise with some elements of the pro-life movement is so difficult. In this case, Ryan supports the “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act” precisely because it would reduce the number of abortions while improving the reproductive health of millions of women. The measure is generally seen as the ideal way to strike some common ground — by improving women’s access to contraception and education, policymakers could help reduce unwanted pregnancies and cut down on the number of abortions.

But in this case, Ryan’s support for prevention made him insufficiently “pro-life.” In some circles, contraception is still, even now, a problem.

Fortunately, this hasn’t prompted Ryan to change his position. “I can’t figure out for the life of me how to stop pregnancies without contraception,” he said. “Don’t be mad at me for wanting to solve the problem.”

Update: Democrats For Life of America has sent over a statement claiming that Ryan’s departure was unrelated to his position on contraception. “DFLA does not take a position on contraception,” the statement reads. “Despite rumors to the contrary, we do not oppose contraception. We believe that preventing pregnancy is an important part of reducing the abortion rate in America. There are several ways to address prevention, but there is no clear consensus because of ethical, religious or personal reasons.”

The statement added that the group supports “The Pregnant Women Support Act” as an alternative to the “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.”