Mitt’s VP

How Would a Vice President Paul Ryan Affect Women?

How is Romney’s running mate on social issues? From abortion to Obamacare and Medicaid, how he stacks up.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo


Rep. Paul Ryan is on record saying that he believes life begins at conception. He opposes “partial-birth” abortions and has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee. Ryan, a staunch Roman Catholic, also believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape and incest. Mitt Romney, by contrast, espoused pro-choice sentiments when he was running for office in Massachusetts but changed his position a few years ago. The former Massachusetts governor has said abortion should be available for women who are the victims of rape and incest or whose lives would be in danger if they carry the fetus to term.

Affordable Care Act

Both Romney and Ryan want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s signature legislation that extends health-care coverage to millions of Americans and prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions. Ryan voted in July to abolish the law and has called it “fiscally irresponsible” and said the regulations “threaten to cripple businesses both large and small.” For Ryan, incremental changes to the Affordable Care Act won’t be enough. He wants to get rid of it completely.


Like Romney, Ryan vehemently opposed the Obama administration’s mandate that religious-affiliated institutions provide insurance coverage for birth control, calling it a violation of “our first amendment rights to religious freedom and conscience.” Also like Romney, Ryan has opposed federally funded family planning services, voting in 1999 to deny birth-control coverage to federal employees. During the primaries, Romney advocated eliminating Title X funding, a Nixon-era program that covers birth control and cancer screenings. Ryan has voted repeatedly against funding international family-planning programs.

The Budget

Ryan may be best known for his attempt to wrangle the federal budget. Under Ryan’s plan, safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare would be cut along with food stamps, child care, and other services for the poor. Ryan has met with stiff resistance from across the country, including a group of nuns who went on a nine-state bus tour earlier this year to protest the proposed cuts. “It’s immoral,” Sister Diane Donohue told The Washington Post. The nuns have called the Ryan budget un-Christian because it fails to take care of the most vulnerable Americans. They have offered an alternative proposal that would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Romney has embraced Ryan’s budget plan.


Ryan was a co-sponsor of the federal Sanctity of Human Life Act, a bill that declared that life begins with fertilization, a concept that conservative voters in Mississippi rejected. The bill states that a fertilized egg should “have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” If it had passed, the bill also would have outlawed certain types of birth control and in vitro fertilization. Romney, on the other hand, has waffled a bit on the subject. In 2007, he said he supported a “Human Life Amendment” that would afford unborn children the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. But he’s backed off that claim this election cycle, saying personhood is a state issue.

Planned Parenthood

Throughout his time in the House, Ryan has voted at least four times to defund Planned Parenthood, though that would take money away from screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. His stand dovetails with his running mate’s position. In March, Romney said he wants to “get rid” of federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Romney explained that he didn’t think it was worth borrowing money from China to continue supporting Planned Parenthood.

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Under the Ryan budget plan, the federal government would dramatically reduce the funding it gives to Medicaid, a program many low-income women and families rely on for health care. The program would become a block grant to the states. Under the current system, the federal government ensures that states get enough money to cover everyone who is eligible for Medicaid. Under the Ryan plan, states would receive financial support based on a predetermined formula that most likely would force state officials to pick and choose who they would cover. Romney has endorsed Ryan’s budget plan and its cost-cutting measures.