Mitt Romney handed Barack Obama a potentially winning new slogan for his campaign for re-election in November: "Paul Ryan is bad for women."
As much as Romney would prefer the upcoming election to be a referendum on Obama’s financial policy, his will probably force social issues to take center stage. Romney has worked hard to avoid discussing his mixed record on topics like women’s reproductive rights and health care reform, but Ryan’s entry into the campaign trail may render that impossible.
Ryan may also erode any lasting sliver of hope Romney had of winning back the support of conservative single women who have felt alienated by the Republican Party. Ryan has been a prominent figure in the recent “war on women,” voting to defund Planned Parenthood four times and vocally supporting overturning Roe v. Wade, seeking to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest.
Ryan also co-sponsored the federal Sanctity of Human Life Act, which sought to give a fertilized embryo all the “legal and constitution attributes and privileges of personhood.” This is in spite of the fact that personhood amendments have been thus far unpopular on state ballots and would make certain forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization treatments illegal. Ryan also supported the Protect Life Act, nicknamed the ‘Let Women Die Act’ by Democrats, that would have allowed hospitals to deny women emergency abortion care, even in a life-or-death situation for the mother.
In 2009, Ryan voted against the relatively uncontroversial Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed without his support and grants women protection from being denied equal pay for equal work. This is not to mention Ryan's consistent lack of support for LGBT rights, his record on immigration, and his much lauded budget plan that would slash safety net programs and dismantle Medicare as we know it.
The full impact of Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate will not be known until the election in November. But as the race heats up in the next two months, it seems Ryan's deeply conservative stances on social issues may do more harm than good.