Catholic Congressman Tim Ryan on Why He No Longer Opposes Abortion

"The heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families."


Rep. Tim Ryan/Facebook

In a new Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) explains what led him from ardently opposing legal abortion to thinking the government should stay out of the issue. Since he was first elected to Congress in 2002, Rep. Ryan has supported a variety of anti-abortion legislation.

Raised Catholic, "I always considered myself pro-life," he writes. But talking to more and more women about abortion, as well as becoming a father himself, changed his thinking. 

These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families. 

"This is not a partisan issue, but instead a personal one," Ryan continued. "I have come to believe that we must trust women and families—not politicians—to make the best decision for their lives." 

Good for Ryan for coming to this realization where it concerns reproductive freedom; let's hope he's equally keen on trusting people, not politicians, to make decisions in other areas as well.

Though I don't know much about Ryan's record, he seems interestingly atypical from the little bit I have read. Last fall, he wrote a book about nutrition and food policy that seems more focused on inspiring individual action than imposing government-mandated solutions (though he does, alas, favor mandatory GMO labeling). He has also written a book about mindfulness and runs a meditation group on the Hill for fellow lawmakers, called the "Quiet Caucus."  

Ryan recently told Roll Call that he may challenge Republican Sen. Rob Portman in 2016.