WASHINGTON — Rep.
Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012 and an
abortion opponent, said Thursday that anti-abortion activists should
try to build a broad coalition and find common ground with supporters
of abortion rights as a way to advance their agenda.
Ryan, R-Wis., said in
a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List that those who oppose abortion
"need to work with people who consider themselves pro-choice —
because our task isn't to purge our ranks. It's to grow them."
"We don't want a
country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it
isn't even considered," he said.
Ryan told the
organization that seeks to elect women who oppose abortion rights that
"labels can be misleading." He pointed to former GOP Sen.
Scott Brown, whose 2010 election in Massachusetts nearly derailed
President Barack Obama's health care law. Brown supports abortion
rights. In contrast, Ryan told the group that former Michigan Rep.
Bart Stupak, who opposed abortion, "delivered the votes that
passed it into law."
Many opponents of
abortion disagreed with the health care overhaul because it requires
most employers to cover birth control free of charge to female workers
as a preventative service. The law exempted churches and other houses
Ryan said critics
often urge abortion opponents to abandon their beliefs but "that
would only demoralize our voters." But he said anti-abortion
activists should work with people of all beliefs to plant
"flags" in the law — "small changes that raise
questions about abortion."
He said some people
who support abortion rights oppose taxpayer funding of abortions or
parental notification of minors' abortions. Others, he said, support
the reinstatement of the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans
American aid from funding abortions. Obama waived the order soon after
taking office in 2009.
the group's president, said it plans to target Senate seats in 2014
held by Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of
Louisiana, both of whom support abortion rights.