Paul Ryan wants YOU to join the ranks of his anti-abortion army

Paul Ryan is still talking. This time he’s talking about building allies (ahem, co-opting pro-choice supporters):

Ryan, R-Wis., said in a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List that those who oppose abortion “need to work with people who consider themselves pro-choice – because our task isn’t to purge our ranks. It’s to grow them.”

“We don’t want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn’t even considered,” he said.

Hmmm… let’s imagine what a country where abortion doesn’t need to be “considered” would look like. It would certainly include a comprehensive sexual education curriculum (and one that includes lessons on consent), widespread availability of contraceptives and condoms, and clear definitions of rape and sexual misconduct, and sexual assault. Oh, and a country with communities that do not promote sexual misconduct, assault and rape. A country with well-funded public schools, flexible family-leave policies and flexible child care for married and single parents, and equal pay for women (let’s stop pretending that there aren’t deep economic issues connected to women who choose abortion over pregnancies).

Is that your vision of a country where abortion isn’t even considered, Mr. Ryan?

We are pro-abortion rights because we can use our big thinking brains to figure out that the choice to continue or terminate a pregnancy is complicated. Labels don’t always reflect that complexity, it’s true. But instead of acknowledging the very nuanced public opinion around women’s reproductive choice and rights, Ryan seeks to twist these truths into a strategy to win (or subvert) would be pro-choice voters by shifting language to align them with his position. It wouldn’t be the first time the conservative movement has appropriated strategy from the left. It appears that in this case, the Ryan camp is taking cues from Planned Parenthood’s more genuine playbook. In January, Planned Parenthood launched a campaign to reach women and men many of whom may be self-described anti choice, but upon further inquiry, discover that they are uncomfortable with policy makers, politicians and judges dictating decisions that should be left up to women. You know, women being individuals, using their mental minds.

We should be wary of this kinder gentler rhetoric from Ryan. These “flags” that creates “small changes that raise questions about abortion” erode reproductive freedom.

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

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  • charish

    Hey Feministing Community,
    I just wanted to turn you on to the drama that’s happening in Ohio. University of Toledo is ending it’s relationship with area abortion clinics. They’re using sneaky loophole bureaucracy to shut these clinics down. Please read more about our petition here:

  • June B.

    Savita Halappanavar’s situation was one in which abortion wasn’t even considered by her doctors.

  • justice day

    Why do people worry more about abortion and less about rape? Rape is sometimes a cause for an abortion. As we are seeing in the news young girls are committing suicide from rape.

    The US has a military full of rapist who get out and continue to rape at colleges and in society.

    I’m sorry if I’m not worried about abortion either way since way more women and children are being raped.

    • Asha

      People can be concerned about more than one issue at a time. And we are.

  • Steve

    I spent 23 years in the SEAL teams and never raped anyone. I am sorry for whatever occurred to you Justice day but it is unfair to say that the military is “full of rapist(s)” and that we are “trained to rape”. I was never trained to rape but on the contrary trained that all people are equal regardless of gender or sexual orientation and I agree with Asha, we have the ability to be concerned for multiple issues. I wish nothing but the best for you and hope you will consider what I’ve said.