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Paul Ryan's women problem

Women's rights groups didn't waste much time before beginning to define Congressman Paul Ryan.

Late yesterday, Planned Parenthood released a new web ad calling the Romney-Ryan ticket "really wrong for women." And over the weekend, Emily's List published the "Top 5 Worst Things About Paul Ryan's Record."

Both groups point to Rep. Ryan's stance on reproductive rights. Ryan co-sponsored a bill that would give "personhood" rights to fetuses--effectively banning abortion. He supports measures that would require a woman to receive an ultrasound before getting an abortion; voted at least four times to defund Planned Parenthood; and opposes the Obama Administration's contraception mandate. In total, NARAL calculates that Ryan has cast 59 "anti-choice" votes since entering the House in 1999.

Those votes have earned him a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood and a 100% ranking from the National Right to Life Committee.

Ryan appears unapologetic. Two years ago, he told the Weekly Standard:

I’m as pro-life as a person gets…You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life.

That same year, Ryan, in an essay arguing for a "personhood" law, equated Roe v. Wade with the Dred Scott decision:

Twice in the past the U.S. Supreme Court—charged with being the guardian of rights—has failed so drastically in making this crucial determination that it “disqualified” a whole category of human beings, with profoundly tragic results.

The first time was in the 1857 case, Dred Scott v. Sandford. The Court held, absurdly, that Africans and their American descendants, whether slave or free, could not be citizens with a right to go to court to enforce contracts or rights or for any other reason...The second time the Court failed in a case regarding the definition of “human” was in Roe v. Wade in 1973, when the Supreme Court made virtually the identical mistake. At what point in time does a human being exist, the state of Texas asked. The Court refused to answer: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” In other words, the Court would not “qualify” unborn children as living persons whose human rights must be guaranteed.

His opposition to reproductive rights is just part of Ryan's potential problem with women. He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and his budget plan would take a huge hit to food stamps and Medicaid. According to the Kaiser Foundation, women account for 70% of adult Medicaid beneficiaries. As Governor Romney tries to "Etch-a-Sketch" and reach out to moderate female voters, these views may hurt efforts that have already proved somewhat challenging. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from last month, Romney trailed Obama by 15 points among women voters.