| In an interview with 9News Political Reporter Brandon Rittiman, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan replied, "Oh, heaven's no," when asked if he wants to "abolish" birth control completely.
But, as we know from our long and losing history with personhood amendments here in Colorado, the phrase "birth control" has multiple meanings, depending on where you come down on personhood, which would give legal rights to fertilized eggs and ban all abortion.
For Ryan, who supports personhood and believes life begins at conception, "birth control" exists, but it's limited to specific objects and pills that do not destroy or have the ability to destroy fertilized eggs or zygotes.
Other forms of "birth control," like some forms of the pill and IUD's, are not considered "birth control" at all by personhood supporters, but abortifacients, which are zygote killers, chemicals that cause "abortion." And these would be banned, if fertilized eggs received legal protections under personhood laws.
So, in the following exchange with Rittiman, if you want understand Ryan's real position on birth control, you have to get biological with him (as in, what about forms of birth control that threaten or kill fertilized eggs?)
Rittiman: I've got a few questions from viewers...Holly asked us on our Facebook page about women's issues, which have been in the campaign dialogue. She wants to know if you're simply opposed to public funding of things like birth control or if you want to abolish them completely?
Ryan: Oh, heaven's no. People should be free to have birth control all they want. But what we don't want to do is force taxpayers or groups, like religious charities, churches, and hospitals, to have to provide and pay for benefits that violates their religious teachings and conscience. Of course we believe people should have the freedom to use birth control. Nobody's talking about that. The question is, can the federal government require churches and charities, people of religious conviction, to violate their religious liberties, which is our First Amendment in the Constitution.
(This exchange occureed a couple weeks ago on Your Show, which airs on Channel 20 in Denver.)
I've discussed previously reporters need to beware of the "birth-control" rhetoric of politicians who want to support personhood AND support "birth control." Politicians can certainly have it both ways, because some forms of birth control would not be banned under personhood, but some common forms would be banned. So, it's important for reporters to clarify what people like Paul Ryan are talking about when they use the phrase "birth control."
As to which forms of birth control threaten fertilized eggs and which would do not, I interviewed Nanette Santoro, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Colorado about this back in 2010, and, the way I interpreted her comments, a number of types of birth control, including forms of the pill will, or have the potential to, destroy fertilized eggs. And if you believe that killing a fertilized egg amounts to murder, then you wouldn't want to risk it and, I'd say, it would be illegal to do so. It would be like playing Russian roulette.
I asked Santoro if the science had changed since my 2010 interview, and she said, through a spokesperson, that it had not.
So, unless scientists tell us differently down the road, reporters will be left to sort out the linguistic gymnastics they see from evasive personhood supporters.