In the next days and weeks, there will be a lot of attention on Paul Ryan’s economic expertise and experience with fiscal reform. He became famous in political circles for the “Ryan budget” and for his fearlessness and effectiveness in challenging President Obama in the midst of the Obamacare debate. But what many may not know is that Paul Ryan is a man completely committed to the cause of life. The Susan B. Anthony list outlines his record well:
Congressman Ryan has voted consistently for pro-life legislation, including limits on late-term abortion, regulations against transporting minors across state lines for abortion and for an end to taxpayer funding of abortion, thus earning a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. While in the U.S. House, Rep. Ryan has co-sponsored numerous pro-life bills including the D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and the Protect Life Act.
But a recitation of his legislative record doesn’t do justice to his pro-life commitment. I can remember when there was talk of a “truce” on social issues, Ryan described the depth of his pro-life convictions:
“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.”
In February, 2010, he wrote an essay for the Heritage Foundation called, “The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom.” The entire essay is worth reading, but here’s a key passage:
At the core, today’s “pro-choice” liberals are deeply pessimistic. They denigrate life and offer fear of the present and the future—fear of too many choices and too many children. Rather than seeing children and human beings as a benefit, the “pro-choice” position implies that they are a burden. Despite the “pro-choice” label, liberals’ stance on this subject actually diminishes choices, lowers goals, and leads us to live with less. That includes reducing the number of human beings who can make choices.
In contrast, pro-life conservatives are natural optimists. On balance, we see human beings as assets, not liabilities. All conservatives should find it easy to agree that government must uphold every person’s right to make choices regarding their lives and that every person’s right to live must be secured before he or she can exercise that right of choice. In the state of nature—the “law of the jungle”—the determination of who “qualifies” as a human being is left to private individuals or chosen groups. In a justly organized community, however, government exists to secure the right to life and the other human rights that follow from that primary right.