Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, says both sides of the abortion issue need to work together to turn America into a country where abortion is not just outlawed, but not even considered.
"We don't want a country where abortion is simply outlawed," Ryan said at a Washington, D.C., gala for the Susan B. Anthony List. "We want a country where it isn't even considered."
Ryan, a Roman Catholic, had campaigned as a distinctly pro-life candidate, whose position on abortion differed even from Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate. While Romney was also pro-life and against abortion, he said that the practice should be allowed in the cases of rape, while Ryan has insisted that all unborn children, regardless of the circumstances, should be protected. The former VP candidate clarified, however, that Romney would have set the policies regarding the issue if he were to capture the presidency.
Ryan argued that the point of the pro-life movement should not be to exclude people, but to work with people with opposing views to come to a common understanding, the Associated Press noted.
"To advance the pro-life cause, we need to work with people who consider themselves pro-choice, because our task isn't to purge our ranks. It's to grow them," the congressman remarked.
He also reminded attendees that the fight continues against President Barack Obama's HHS health care law, which requires most employers to provide insurance coverage that includes contraceptives and abortifacients to employees, with some exceptions given to religious-based organizations.
"There's a lot of talk these days about how to win the next election. Our critics say we should abandon our pro-life beliefs. But that would only demoralize our voters," he said.
Noting that they can't make pro-life arguments simply based on faith, he said they also need to base arguments on reason. "If we want to appeal to the broadest audience, we need to use every tool at our disposal," he told the audience. The "best way to advance a cause isn't to push our political adversaries away but to convince them."
Ryan suggested that pro-lifers work with people of all beliefs and "plant flags" (such as requiring parental notification) in the law in order to bring about "small changes that raise questions about abortion."
"That's how you bring people into the fold. First, you respect their views. Then you politely encourage them to change them," he stressed.
The Wisconsin congressman said some pro-choice people who support abortion rights do not agree with taxpayer money going to abortion coverage, and want to see the so-called Mexico City policy reinstated, which bans American aid money from being used to fund overseas abortion providers – a policy Obama repealed after taking office in 2009.
A Pew Forum poll showed that most Americans continue to support abortion in all or in most cases, though those numbers have slightly declined since the mid 1990s. In the latest measurement from 2012, 54 percent of those who responded to the poll said that abortion should be legal in most cases, while 39 percent said that it should be illegal.
The Susan B. Anthony List honored four young women at its annual Campaign for Life Gala on Thursday. The honorees were 14-year-old Jessie Liz Clement, eighth grader Grace Daigler, legislative assistant Emily Lynch, and Michigan lawyer Katie Wilcox.