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.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

Read more about Syreeta

Join the Conversation