Blogging for HONS 201: Feminism, New Media, and Health at Hunter College.
So the Vice Presidential debate just wrapped up, and women were finally deemed worthy enough to debate directly. ABC reporter and certified badass Martha Raddatz served as moderator, and was refreshingly assertive throughout.
Raddatz brought up the topic of abortion, interestingly enough, within a Catholic framework. Both Vice President Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan are Catholic, something that Raddatz declared “historic.” (Can we just stop and take a minute to self-evaluate: it says a lot about us as a nation that two straight, white, male, cis men WHO HAPPEN TO BE CATHOLIC running for office is considered “historic.” But I digress.) Paul Ryan tackled the question first in a manner that I can only describe as baffling.
He said that his anti-choice (“pro-life” is a lie) stance came not only from his faith, but also from “reason and science.” Um. What? He then went on to talk about the birth of his daughter, Liza, who apparently looked like a bean on the ultrasound. So they nicknamed her “Bean.” So, because of Bean Ryan, women can’t have bodily autonomy…I think? Something about beans.
He quickly stated that a Romney/Ryan government would permit abortions in cases of rape, incest, and health of the mother; he then tried to divert the issue from abortion and reproductive rights to, what is in his mind, the attack on religion by the United States government. He also conveniently forgot to mention that the Catholic Church – like all religious institutions – does not have to pay taxes in the United States. I’d love to be persecuted like that. On a question about abortion, he ended on a note about China and foreign money and forced sterilizations. Well then. It’s not like we don’t already know Ryan’s stance on reproductive rights; he, along with Todd Akin, co-sponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which raised two serious issues: 1) that a rapist might have legal power over the fetus of the woman he impregnated, and 2) in vitro fertilization could come under fire.
Vice President Biden chose to answer solemnly, saying,
Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I — I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body.
While it is a little sad when you stop and think about how insanely refreshing it is to hear a politician voice support of women’s rights, Biden was right on the money. He stated very eloquently that personal and religious beliefs should be divorced from political decision-making, and should by no means be imposed on others. Bravo.
Sorry, but not sorry, Paul Ryan. Uncle Joe takes this one by a long shot.
PS. I just like to remind people that it was Joe Biden who drafted the Violence Against Women Act. Just in case you were wondering which party had women’s best interests at heart.