The Corner

Ryan and ‘Women’s Issues’

On Saturday, Buzzfeed ran a story by one of its staffers, Amy Odell, titled “Five Things You Need to Know About Paul Ryan’s Stance on Women’s Issues.”

The first item: “He supports the Sanctity of Human Life Act” (emphasis in original). Odell wrote that the bill “seeks to ban all abortions, including in instances of rape and incest.” Ryan may, for all I know, believe that abortion should be illegal with exceptions only to save a mother’s life. But has he really co-sponsored a bill to effect this policy? No. The bill declares that fertilization marks the beginning of a human life and then “affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.” In other words, it doesn’t ban anything: It merely affirms that legislatures have the authority to protect unborn life. If Odell wishes to argue that a legislature moved by the convictions of the bill must, to be consistent, ban abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest, she can do so. It’s not in the bill.

The fifth item: “He supports a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage based on personal beliefs. Ryan co-sponsored the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act of 2012, introduced by fellow Republican pro-life Wisconsin representative James Sensenbrenner in July. The bill would allow employers in public and private sectors to deny women birth control coverage if they had a moral or religious objection to contraception. It seeks to undermine the compromise Obama reached with religious groups on this issue, allowing them to opt out of contraception coverage in favor of insurance companies providing it instead” (emphasis in original).

This is grossly misleading. The bill restores the status quo that has been in effect in the U.S. from the dawn of the republic until this month: Federal law has always allowed employers to refuse to cover procedures they consider objectionable. Odell makes it sound as though Ryan had backed some novel, aggressive move. Nor is it true that Obama “reached a compromise with religious groups.” Obama’s original policy is the only one on the books, and the administration has not declared its support for any modification to it that is acceptable to the vast majority of religious groups that objected to it.

There’s only one thing you need to know about Odell’s article: It’s slanted to the left.

Update: Buzzfeed has corrected the first item. The fifth one is still misleading.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More

Who Is Boris Johnson?

By next week at this time, Boris Johnson will be prime minister of the United Kingdom. Not since Margaret Thatcher has such an outsized personality resided in Number 10 Downing Street. Not since Winston Churchill has such a wit presided over Her Majesty’s Government. Wit is actually the chief reason for ... Read More

The Rise of the Chinese-American Right

On June 13, during a nasty storm, a group of Chinese New Yorkers gathered in front of the gates of Gracie Mansion, the New York mayor’s residence on the Upper East Side, to protest. Inside, Mayor Bill de Blasio was meeting with two dozen or so representatives of the Asian-American community to discuss his ... Read More