Congressman booted from Democrats for Life because he wants to reduce the abortion rate

This pretty much sums up what’s wrong with the organized “pro-life” movement, and why Obama’s “common ground plan” can only work if he can spread the message to ordinary Americans instead of working with established anti-choice organizations.

Upset by what is sees as U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan abandoning his pro-life position, Democrats For Life of America removed the congressman from its national advisory board.

“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.

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.

“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.

“They asked me to leave; I got booted,” said Ryan, who was on the group’s national advisory board for about four years.

Until anti-abortion groups actually get serious about reducing the need for abortion, it’s impossible to work with them. And until they actually start to put some muscle behind their claim that they want to end abortion, a lot of us are going to go on thinking that their position isn’t about ending abortion at all, but about controlling women’s bodies and female sexuality.


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21 comments for “Congressman booted from Democrats for Life because he wants to reduce the abortion rate

  1. Kristen from MA
    July 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Hopefully, Ryan now realizes that the pro-choice position IS the pro-life position. I guess time will tell.

  2. Pro-Choice, Anti-Abortion
    July 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t think it’s about controlling woman’s bodies or female sexuality. It’s just as much about men. It’s about control of the *people*. Both parties pushing agendas, rather than facts; controlling information rather than empowering real choices. I’m not even convinced it’s not about health and populaton control, too.

    Abortion is about money first and foremost, however and even anti-abortion coalitions make their fair share from the industry. If they were so concerned with eradicating abortion, like they say they are, they would be out there educating and empowering woman AND men with information and resources. But they don’t. They create inflammatory ads with hurtful messages to elicit more donors to their “cause”. It’s the same reason pro-choice organizations get up-in-arms about movies like Juno, that showed a pro-choice stance – just not the choice they want it to be. If abortion becomes less and less necessary they risk losing their livelihoods. And heaven forbid the health (physical and emotional) risks be brought to light! Making an informed choice obviously isn’t safe either. Again, control the people.

    The only way to make abortion an obsolete practice is by individuals ceasing to allow these ridiculous organizations (for or against) to maintain control over the practices, resources to prevent its necessity and information. Stop supporting these organizations and get your ass out there supporting REAL PEOPLE. Why do we need a big name org to do that for us? Our time and dollars would be better spent directly affecting the lives of the woman AND men needing help (rather than it dwindling away to nothing on “admin costs”).

    PS Why is this labeled Crazy Conservatives when it’s about Liberals?

  3. Sheelzebub
    July 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Um, I’m a “real person” and I found those pro-choice organizations VERY helpful (then again, I got an abortion because I didn’t want to be pregnant, and saw the VERY damaging effects adoption had on two birth mothers I knew. But heaven forbid the physical dangers of pregnancy and the emotional damage of giving up your child for adoption be brought to light). We need a big name organization to help protect our rights because anti-choice folks are trying to take them away.

    You know what wasn’t helpful? The lie that pro-choice organizations are all about money. Oh, really? Honey, I’ve got news for you. PP provides BC and gynocological care for women. It’s not just about the abortions, but thanks for the demonstration of ignorance.

  4. Sheelzebub
    July 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    If abortion becomes less and less necessary they risk losing their livelihoods. And heaven forbid the health (physical and emotional) risks be brought to light! Making an informed choice obviously isn’t safe either. Again, control the people.

    I know two birthmothers who were horribly traumatized by having to give up their children for adoption; I know one woman who nearly died from the complications of her pregnancy. Oddly enough, the physical risks of pregnancy and the mental and emotional damage of adoption are NEVER brought to light.

    Planned Parenthood doesn’t make money off of abortion; abortion is NOT the only thing it provides. It also provides BC, exams, and prenatal care, as well as, um, you guessed it, information and resources.

    I’m one of the “people” you think needs to be reached, and I can guarantee you, I don’t regret my choice to abort at all. I didn’t want to be pregnant (still don’t) and don’t want to go through the adoption option. Pro-choice orgs exist because there are political groups trying to keep me and women like me from making private medical decisions.

  5. preying mantis
    July 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    “Abortion is about money first and foremost,”

    *snort* If they were in it for the money, they’d be obstetricians with an axe to grind against the homebirth movement. Jeebus Herbert Christ, the amount of money it costs to carry to term, even if you all but go and deliver in a ditch, is enough to make abortion look like the fire sale option.

    “If abortion becomes less and less necessary they risk losing their livelihoods.”

    Uh…only if abortion becomes less and less necessary because people stop fucking. The amount of money I’ve given PP over the years in order to prevent pregnancy and maintain my reproductive health would have paid for seven first-trimester abortions.

    “The only way to make abortion an obsolete practice is by”

    Making birth control 100% effective instead of 80-95% effective? Eliminating rape? Engineering a fail-proof artificial uterus in addition to making birth control 100% effective and eliminating rape? Filing an injunction against god preventing the further negligent deitying re: fetal demise and defect incompatible with life?

    “individuals ceasing to allow these ridiculous organizations (for or against) to maintain control over the practices, resources to prevent its necessity and information.”

    o i c.

    “Stop supporting these organizations and get your ass out there supporting REAL PEOPLE.”

    I’m sure the real people we’d all like to help will be overjoyed at the prospect of having to rely on fifty individuals for aid rather than being able to go to one organization with clear policies and (relatively) consistent funding. Surely, you are the prophet of a shining new age of wasted effort, reduplication, and non-collective action. My eyes are now open to the glory of being more useless than a charity pickle jar parked next to a Kwikie Mart register.

  6. July 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Actually, Jill, I think this is the biggest dividend of the “common ground” initiative: it drives a huge wedge between the majority of people who just wish there weren’t as many abortions from… the kind of people who want to use abortion to control (heterosexual?) sexual behavior.

    And the thing is it’s not *just* a wedge issue: I don’t know about Rep. Ryan himself but plenty of people like him really are comfortable with increased support for contraception (which includes making it safer, more effective, easier to use, less expensive, more accessible, and more widely available.) And most are willing to let abortions (however uncomfortable it makes them) as long as they think progress is possible in reducing unwanted, unplanned pregnancies in the first place.

    Is that sort of pragmatic “common ground” ideal? No. What would be ideal would be unreserved and unconditional support for women’s reproductive self-determination. But in terms of coalition building it’s far, far better to have them on our side than on the anti-choice side. And just making the “common ground” effort, as we see, works two ways. First, it makes us appear sympathetic to waverers. Second, it drags real hard-core anti-choicers like the DFLA, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the U.S. Congress of Bishops into sunlight… where even to erstwhile allies like Rep. Ryan or even, say, Will Saletan, their creepiness is impossible to miss.

    So yeah, no way we’ll ever get to common ground with the DFLA. But then we don’t have to. Creating opportunities for them to alienate their nominal supporters is enough. Because, seriously, do you think they’d have kicked Ryan out if someone else hadn’t reached out to him? No.

    So yeah, big dividends.

    figleaf

  7. July 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    It’s the same reason pro-choice organizations get up-in-arms about movies like Juno, that showed a pro-choice stance – just not the choice they want it to be.

    Name two pro-choice organizations that got up-in-arms about Juno.

  8. July 14, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Figleaf, I agree. Sorry if that wasn’t clear in the post — I think the “common ground” angle is genius because it puts anti-choice groups in the position of actually having to back up their claims that they want to end abortion, and it also appeals to people who identify as pro-life but aren’t part of the organized movement. The problem that I see is with reaching out to pro-life groups in general, instead of just targeting ordinary Americans.

  9. sophiefair
    July 14, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I don’t think it’s about controlling woman’s bodies or female sexuality. It’s just as much about men.

    no. it isn’t.

  10. libdevil
    July 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    PS Why is this labeled Crazy Conservatives when it’s about Liberals?

    Um, because forced-birthers are both conservative and crazy, even when they call themselves Democrats?

  11. July 14, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Abortion is about money first and foremost … If abortion becomes less and less necessary they risk losing their livelihoods. And heaven forbid the health (physical and emotional) risks be brought to light! Making an informed choice obviously isn’t safe either.

    Seriously? The “abortion is a moneymaker” myth has been disproved probably about a thousand times. The most expensive third-trimester (therapeutic) abortion is still nowhere near as expensive as the cheapest birth care.

    Also, is that an allusion to the also-disproved-a-thousand-times “post-abortion syndrome” I spy?

    Though it’s true that anti-choice organizations do make millions from their opposition to choice…

    The only way to make abortion an obsolete practice is by individuals ceasing to allow these ridiculous organizations (for or against) to maintain control over the practices, resources to prevent its necessity and information. Stop supporting these organizations and get your ass out there supporting REAL PEOPLE. Why do we need a big name org to do that for us? Our time and dollars would be better spent directly affecting the lives of the woman AND men needing help (rather than it dwindling away to nothing on “admin costs”).

    Bullshit. Abortion will never be obsolete due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, but the only way to significantly reduce it is to develop better birth control and make it widely available, give proper sex ed, provide financial resources for mothers, and improve and cheapen health care.

    And what other commenters said about your PS., Juno, etc.

  12. July 14, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    No, Pro-Choice, Anti-Abortion is right. The anti-abortion movement is just as much about men as it is about women. It’s about preserving male dominance over women’s bodies.

  13. stlthy
    July 15, 2009 at 2:38 am

    Abortion is about money first and foremost

    If abortion becomes less and less necessary they risk losing their livelihoods.

    You do realise just how much money obstetricians make, right? I also wonder just how much the anti-choice industry receives in donations…

    And you know, I’d far prefer for abortion providers and pro-choice organisations to make money than the alternative scenario, in which abortions were banned and lots of women ended up maimed and killed due to unsafe abortions. Then there’s the fact that, when abortion is banned, ‘underground’ abortion providers end up with a rather lucrative business…

    If one is that concerned about the income of pro-choice organisations and activists, there’s a way to resolve that – if the right to access safe and legal abortion were no longer under constant threat, there wouldn’t be a need for organisations fighting to lobby to preserve that right.

  14. July 15, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Get rid of the one guy who speaks the closest thing to sense. Good strategy.

  15. jm
    July 15, 2009 at 10:46 am

    If abortion is such a money-maker, why are there huge areas of the US where providers are not available? In my town, the ONE guy who did late-term abortions retired, and there is no-one to take his place. Where are all those money-grubbing abortionists to take his place? If abortions were really so profitable, I’d think they’d be on every corner, like Starbuck’s, or at least on par with cosmetic surgery clinics.

    By the way, I also am friends with the local PP manager. She manages three clinics, in two cities, often works more than 10 hours a day, six days a week, and gets paid less than $40,000. Money-maker, indeed.

  16. sophiefair
    July 15, 2009 at 11:39 am

    No, Pro-Choice, Anti-Abortion is right. The anti-abortion movement is just as much about men as it is about women. It’s about preserving male dominance over women’s bodies.

    sorry, still can’t agree. “male dominance” may be felt at a visceral level, but it still does not even approach having one’s body appropriated from one’s own control. and i would also argue that it is about patriarchal (not just male) dominance over women’s bodies. but the body comes first.

    slavery was not “just as much” about whites. the final solution was not “just as much” about the nazis.

    women need to be able to own their own bodies. that is bedrock. baseline. reproductive justice may be “about” male dominance, but it is FOUNDED on the inalienable personhood of women, and i will never concede any part of that to some asshole crying “what about the menz?” (not you, Sarah MC — the person who initially made the claim further up thread.)

  17. Batman
    July 16, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Hey wingnuts, I am pro-life and oppose contraception. Just because I favor the legal protection of all life (and not just the powerful, as you do) does not mean that I would countenance illicit means for doing so, such as contraception. For example, I would not torture a Muslim even if by doing so I would magically end all abortions in America. Unlike you, I do not believe that the ends justify the means.

    Until the pro-choice side begins to make rational arguments for its positions, I will not respect any of their lame-brain “ideas.”

  18. Chris
    July 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Yes, Batman, because wearing a condom is totally morally equivalent to torturing a Muslim. You call that a “rational argument?”

  19. July 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Hey wingnuts, I am pro-life and oppose contraception.

    You’re an idiot.

    Just because I favor the legal protection of all life (and not just the powerful, as you do) does not mean that I would countenance illicit means for doing so, such as contraception. For example, I would not torture a Muslim even if by doing so I would magically end all abortions in America. Unlike you, I do not believe that the ends justify the means.

    Wow, you’re really an idiot.

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