by Max Brantley
If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States.
In this country, they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly. And the wreckage would begin on Day 1 of a Romney administration.
Mr. Romney has pledged that, on his first day in the White House, he would reinstate the “global gag rule,” the odious restriction that has been used to deny federal money for family-planning work abroad to any organization that provided information, advice, referrals or services for legal abortion or supported the legalization of abortion, even using its own money.
Merely talking about abortion could cost groups not only federal money, but also useful technical support and American-donated supplies of contraceptives, including condoms for distribution in the communities they serve.
There's more. It is worth noting, to the extent possible, a Republican legislative majority in Arkansas would do every bit of the same sorts of things in Arkansas. Refusal of expanded Medicaid — which in turn would mean a drastic reduction in the existing Medicaid program and likely a reduction in the current health coverage for children (Mike Huckabee's great positive legacy, now in grave danger) — will be every bit as damaging and anti-woman and anti-mother. Among many others, Jason Rapert, if elected, will be back with his mandatory ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions. Health professionals have said it would require mandatory transvaginal probes in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Spread 'em, ladies.