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McEntee: Romney-Ryan win could reverse progress among women and LGBT Utahns

Published August 13, 2012 3:18 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

So Utah "GOP leaders" are delirious with joy at Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Well, explain that to a great many Utah women and the LGBT community, many of whose rights could turn to dust if Ryan's ideas on choice and equality take hold in this state and nation.

As a Wisconsin representative in Washington, D.C., Ryan would have defunded Planned Parenthood, which in Utah served the health care and family planning needs of 57,000 men and women last year alone.

It is funded by Title X federal dollars and donations. It does offer abortions, none paid for with tax dollars, which have been legal in the United States since 1973.

Still, Ryan's record as a conservative in both politics and religion is telling.

He sponsored legislation creating a "personhood" bill that establishes a fertilized egg as a fully formed human being. (Utah Rep. Aaron Osmond tried that in the 2012 Legislature, and quickly withdrew it when more reasoned minds questioned its premise.)

Ryan voted for the federal Protected Life Act, which would have allowed hospitals to deny abortions even if the pregnancy could cost a woman her life. He believes abortion should be illegal in all cases, even incest and/or rape.

He also voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which gave women the right to challenge pay inequality with men and was the first bill signed by President Barack Obama.

As for our friends and family in the LGBT sphere, Ryan has supported a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that so far hasn't materialized. He still supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Obama said last year he would no longer defend.

Two years ago, Ryan voted against repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. He also has voted against expansion of federal hate crimes laws to protect the community and against same-sex adoption in the District of Columbia.

Finally, Ryan would slash spending on Medicaid, which millions of women, men and children depend on for basic health care.

He and Romney also have set their sights on Obama's signature Affordable Care Act and its requirement that insurance policies cover preventive services such as mammograms, cancer screenings and birth control with no co-pays.

Now, Romney has stated that his budget, not Ryan's, will be at the forefront of their campaign. But judging from their appearance on CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday, it seems clear that they're going to be arm in arm on the future of the nation if they win.

We've made some big gains here in Utah regarding women's health care — Planned Parenthood and other low- or no-cost clinics are still delivering services to women of all income levels.

Fifteen municipalities have included the anti-discrimination laws regarding jobs and housing that protect the LGBT community

Still, the specter of a national Republican effort to reverse progress such as that is ominous and real. Republican members of Utah's congressional delegation consider the Romney-Ryan ticket a passport to a complete overhaul of the economy.

To paraphrase Ryan Lizza, who profiled Ryan in a recent New Yorker article, it's not so much Romney who'll be signaling what Republicans might do if they win in November.

"The person to understand," he wrote, "is Paul Ryan."

Peg McEntee is a news colummnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.






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