If You’re Really Pro-Life, You’d Give Up This “Contraception” Idea

From Feministing:

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) was removed from the Democrats For Life of America’s advisory board because he supports contraception.

Apparently, DFA was tired of Ryan consistently harping on this crazy idea that the way to prevent unintended pregnancy is by ensuring access to contraception:

“DFLA gave Congressman Ryan ample opportunities to prove he’s committed to protecting life, but he has turned his back on the community at every turn,” said Kristen Day, the Washington, D.C.-based pro-life organization’s executive director.

What does "ample opportunities to prove he’s committed to protecting life" mean to DFLA? It seems clear that "protecting life" is not about preventing unplanned pregnancy and abortion. According to Ryan, 

“We’re working in Congress with groups that agree with preventative options while [the DFLA] is getting left behind,” Ryan said. “I can’t figure out for the life of me how to stop pregnancies without contraception. Don’t be mad at me for wanting to solve the problem.”

Ryan said he tried to convince officials with Democrats For Life of America, which he referred to today as a “fringe group,” that the use of contraception is needed as part of any plan to reduce unintended pregnancies but that failed.

Jessica at Feministing writes, 

And this is why we call anti-choicers ‘anti-choice’: because they’re not just about making abortion illegal. They don’t women to have access to contraception either – something that 98 percent of American women will use at some point in their lives. Common ground, my ass.

A sentiment I completely understand. But let’s look at Rep. Ryan as a common grounder in this case – a man who has called himself pro-life (though it’s hard to know if he will continue to do so), but for whom access to contraception is clearly an issue worth fighting for. 

Rep. Ryan is a co-sponsor of the Ryan Delauro bill, also called the Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.  The legislation has been monitored by many reproductive health advocates with a wary eye towards whether anti-choicers would support a bill that increases access to contraception via Title X and Medicaid while also increasing the adoption tax credit, increasing support for pregnant students who decide to keep their babies, and increasing support for the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program (assisting lower income families with food, and other necessities). 

I think his removal has the potential to shine a very real light on how extremist many of the anti-choice organizations are. In this case, we now have a legislator who says clearly that he is working in Congress with various groups that can agree that access to contraception is critical. This work will continue with Rep. Ryan while DFA and others insist on sacrificing what most Americans want and need in regards to their sexual and reproductive health, pledging allegiance to rhetoric instead. 

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  • invalid-0

    On July 7, 2009, Rep. Tim Ryan voted in the House Appropriations Committee against a pro-life amendment that would have prevented DC from funding abortions through its tax dollars. He voted no on the Tiahrt(R)/Lincoln Davis(D) amendment which would have restored the long-standing ban on tax-funded abortions in DC (Congress appropriates both federal and DC-collected funds to the District).

    The amendment lost 26-33 and the full House will vote this week on the bill, which due to Rep. Ryan’s and others’ votes, will now fund abortions in DC (with the DC-collected tax funds).

    I’m guessing funding abortions with tax dollars had a lot more to do with his being asked to step down from a pro-life group than your claim of his supporting contraception (which none of your links back up)…

  • colleen

    your claim
    of his supporting contraception (which none of your links back up)…


    So, did you miss where the article states:

    Ryan of Niles, D-17th, insists he’s still a strong pro-life advocate, but grew frustrated with Democrats For Life of America and other pro-life groups that refuse to accept contraceptives as an option to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

    Or do you just think Ryan is lying?




    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    This is discouraging. Apparently the ideologues get to decide who is ProLife (only those who want to ban all abortions and contraception) just like the fundamentalists get to define who’s ‘religious’ (only those with extreme conservative views who ‘love America’).

    But I suppose it is encouraging that if they continue to toss out everyone who doesn’t agree with them 100% so they pare their numbers down to include only the most extreme 10-15%, eventually the ‘mushy middle’ will be so large that we’ll actually be able to get something accomplished.

  • crowepps

    "Day and Gonidakis said Ryan, a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, voted last week in favor of the Financial Services Appropriation bill that includes a provision allowing public funding for abortions.


    In response, Ryan said that is not true and he would never support federal funding for abortions.

    Among the amendments Republicans unsuccessfully tried to insert into the bill was one upholding a 20-year ban forbidding the District of Columbia to use local money to subsidize abortions.

    “The bill doesn’t provide public funding for abortions,” Ryan said. “Congress shouldn’t tell the District of Columbia that it can’t use its own money to fund abortions. That’s not the federal government’s concern.”



  • alison-cole

    In the real world (where people are having sex, whether you like it or not), if you can’t even get behind contraception, you’re not pro-life; you’re pro-unwanted child, pro-poverty, and anti-woman.

  • http://www.democratforlife.org invalid-0

    I wanted to clarify Democrats For Life of America does not take a position with regards to contraception.

    Preventing pregnancy is an important part of reducing the abortion rate in America. There are several ways to address prevention, but there is no clear consensus because of ethical, religious or personal reasons. There are several bills before Congress that address pregnancy prevention. While we have not endorsed a particular bill, we support finding the most effective way to reduce unplanned pregnancies. We cannot deny that abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy, but we also cannot turn our heads and pretend that our children are not engaging in risky behavior or the fact that contraception is not 100 percent effective. The Federal government has made a commitment to support prevention efforts and allocated a record $288.3 million in FY 2005 for family planning under title X. The program provides access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them. A priority is given to low-income persons.

    Pregnant women who wish to carry their children to term have not received that same commitment from the Federal government. We strongly advocate for helping pregnant women who wish to carry their children to term but because of lack of resources believe abortion is their only option. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN) and Pro-life Democrats in Congress who share this same commitment have introduced the Pregnant Women Support Act in the U.S Senate and U.S House. The legislation is a comprehensive approach to provide support for pregnant women who want to carry their child to term.

  • invalid-0

    That’s real nice, Ms. Day, but are these lawmakers also going to provide any support once the child is born? Birth is not an end. Women who choose to abort for financial reasons aren’t just thinking about how much the pregnancy and birth themselves will cost – they’re worried about how they will raise the kid with few resources, few social services, crappy or dangerous schools.

    Also, where the government is concerned with pregnancy prevention, religious factors really have no place in the discussion. The government should study the FACTS and decide based on them how best to help families plan. The FACTS say that contraception is, in fact, pretty good; not completely foolproof, but the margin of error is usually under 5%. It is not the government’s place to cater to how Christians or Muslims or Buddhists feel about family planning. It is the government’s place to provide a real-world solution that religious and non-religious alike can choose to use or not to use as they see fit. In short, nobody’s religious beliefs should be determining whether women should be encouraged to try contraception.

  • invalid-0

    but there is no clear consensus because of ethical, religious or personal reasons

    Perhaps you and your membership should reexamine this notion because over 90% of the population has no qualms about effective contraception and that’s as clear a consensus as you’re going to find.
    Also, I cannot help but notice that you fail to address Rep Ryan’s statements or state the reasons you removed him from your advisory board which is, after all, the subject of this post.
    I’m inclined to believe what he has to say about the matter.

  • invalid-0

    My point was the links didn’t back up the bloggers’ (Feministing’s and RHreality check’s) claims that “U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) was removed from the Democrats For Life of America’s advisory board because he supports contraception.” That’s in the blog and the theme of the title to this piece. He may think the world should support his position, but it doesn’t sound like that’s why he was asked to leave the group. Rep. Ryan voted to have taxpayers (DC taxpayers) fund abortion–he can do that as an elected member of Congress but seriously do people except a pro-life group to keep him on its board after that vote? As to the post that says “Not true, says Ryan”–you’ll note the original comment does not say Ryan voted to federally fund abortion, but it is not being honest to say anything other than he DID vote to have (DC) taxpayers fund abortion (a change from current law). It’s not that Rep. Ryan voted for the overall bill’s passage but that he specifically voted against this amendment.

    From CQ:
    House Appropriations Committee Markup
    July 7, 2009
    Financial Services Spending Bill Advances in Committee
    By David Clarke, CQ Staff…
    An amendment by Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., to prohibit the District government from using any funding, instead of just what it receives from the federal government, on abortions was defeated 26-33.
    HR 3170
    Fiscal 2010 Financial Services Appropriations/D.C. Funding of Abortions
    Amendment text

    Tiahrt, R-Kan. – Amendment that would prohibit any District of Columbia funds, including locally raised funds, from being used for abortions.
    Rejected 26-33: R 21-1; D 5-32; I 0-0; July 7, 2009.

    NAYS (33)
    Republicans (1)
    Frelinghuysen (N.J.)
    Democrats (32)

    Ryan, T. (Ohio).

    Rep. Tim Ryan supported taxpayer-funded abortion in DC. Period.

  • invalid-0

    Ms Day implies that Rep Ryan has been falling away from being a true ‘pro-lifer’ for some time now which would seem to indicate that the organization who rejected him does not claim their action was due to one vote. Also Rep Ryan says that his support of contraception has been the major issue. I would say that the available articles don’t support your claims or even mention them

    As for the vote on allowing local funding in DC to pay for abortions, why shouldn’t DC be allowed the same rights as every other area in the US? The measure was, after all, fully supported by DC’s elected representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton. Are social conservatives opposed to any sort of representation for the citizens of Washington DC?

  • invalid-0


    Last week’s news that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration will ease restrictions on over-the-counter sales of the so-called “morning-after” pill disturbs DFLA. The USDA’s efforts will allow 17 year olds to get this drug. Generally speaking, we believe that many young women are not informed about the life-and-death issues involved or prepared to make such a life-altering decisions. Concerned Women for America, who supports our position, brought up another scenario. Their president, Wendy Wright, said of the decision, “Any adult male who is having sex with a minor could walk into a pharmacy, buy the drug, and coax the girl into taking the pill.”

    DFLA is working to alert the White House and Congress over the countless Americans who are troubled with the USDA’s decision. We are hopeful that if we amend this new ruling, more young women across the country will avoid being frightened or coerced into a series of poor choices on the “morning-after pill.”


    Explain to me again how “Democrats For Life of America does not take a position with regards to contraception.” What are the “life-altering decisions” related to use of emergency contraception?

  • invalid-0

    because using that reasoning EVERY decision made during the course of a day is “life altering”.
    Whether or not to get coffee, catch the eralier bus, cross the street at the crosswalk, etc. etc.

  • crowepps

    There are several ways to address prevention, but there is no clear consensus because of ethical, religious or personal reasons.

    Why does there have to be a ‘clear consensus’?  Considering this is a diverse country, why would there be a problem with accomodating those ethical, religious and personal reasons by allowing each person to follow their own conscience?


    If I understand your post correctly, you are saying that the DFL opposition to the prevention bill is because that bill doesn’t provide enough support for pregnant women and a different bill would meet that need.  However competition between these bills rests on the assumption that they are a zero-sum game.  Why not pass BOTH of them?  Wouldn’t a two-pronged approach of providing contraception for those who request it with education in BOTH abstinence and correct birth control use AND support to those who get pregnant have a greater total effect on the number of abortions?

  • invalid-0

    He voted to allow the taxpayers of DC to make their own decision whether to fund abortion. Just like every state gets to make its own decision on that same topic. Seventeen states have made a determination to allow state revenues to be used to provide access to safe abortions to poor women. Under this bill, DC will be given the ability to make that decision — of course the people of DC could also decide not to do so. Let’s at least accurately define what he did. If the group wants to toss him out for that, well, that’s their right. But don’t try to claim he did something other than support self determination for the people of DC.

  • invalid-0

    Words Have Meaning

    For example:

    “Governments…[derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

    Those words meant something when the colonists spoke them to their British countrymen. They still mean something when DC denizens speak them today to their American countrymen. Compare the Declaratory Act of 1766 with the District Clause of 1789. Each asserted the unwarranted absolute authority (in eerily similar language, i.e., “in all cases whatsoever”) of the national legislature over an un-represented minority of the national population.

    Legitimate power depends on the consent of the governed. The opportunity to grant or withhold such consent (via regular free and fair elections) has been denied residents of the District for over 200 years. That omission of any opportunity to grant or withold consent, of any opportunity to be counted when consensus is sought, undermines the justice and even the very legitimacy of the Congress, the Courts and the Constitution itself in exercising power over the District.

    Voting in the affairs of one’s native country is an inalienable right. “Inalienable” means something like innate, or inherent or intrinsic. One cannot sell it or give it away, and no one can take it away.

    So it really is irrelevant whether someone would like to trade voting rights for the absence of taxation: it can’t be done.

    Whether taxed or not, DC denizens HAVE an inalienable right to vote. It is innate, inherent, intrinsic to their unarguable identity: citizens of the nation, part of the posterity of the original colonists.

    It is the OTHER citizens of the nation who must at some point come to respect and recognize that inherent right of their fellow citizens in DC, stemming from their equal membership in the nation.