By Matthew Rothschild on October 12, 2012

One more thing about Thursday night’s VP debate.

On the big issue of abortion, Ryan was downright scary, though he tried to hide it with that good-guy mask he wears around.

First, he said he didn’t believe that this issue should be decided by unelected judges.

This is an old trope against the Supreme Court, but since Marbury vs. Madison, the Supreme Court has had the authority to decide what is constitutional and what is not.

So when it ruled, in Roe v. Wade, that women had the right to have an abortion, it was well within its bounds.

Ryan either doesn’t get that, or doesn’t respect that, and either of those is troubling.

But more troubling still is the unstated but obvious fact that if something terrible were to happen to a President Romney, we’d have Paul Ryan in charge with his Neanderthal views on abortion.

Ryan said, under a Romney-Ryan administration, abortion would still be legal in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother, which is a huge rollback in and of itself.

But what about under a Ryan administration?

The only real reason we have a vice president these days is in case of that awful emergency. And Ryan doesn’t believe in any exceptions for abortion. “I’m as pro-life as you can get,” he told The Weekly Standard back in 2010. Anti-abortion groups have hailed Ryan: See “Romney in Denial about Lethal Lack of Health Insurance."this laudatory column from “Pro-Life Wisconsin.”

Ryan has even compared Roe v. Wade to the “Romney in Denial about Lethal Lack of Health Insurance."pro-slavery Supreme Court Dred Scott decision of 1857.

Joe Biden made a mistake by not nailing Ryan on this issue and by not showing how out of touch Ryan is with most women in this country on abortion and contraception.

Instead, Biden narrowly answered the question about how he meshes his Catholic beliefs with his own views on abortion. He added only that he didn’t want to impose his views on others. And he ended by saying: “I—I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that—women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.”

But Biden could have said, “If you become president, and one of my daughters gets raped, who are you to tell her that she shouldn’t be able to get an abortion?”

Ryan would have been hard-pressed to answer that one.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Romney in Denial about Lethal Lack of Health Insurance."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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