Corporations Are People, and Beans Are People, But Healthy Women Are Not People

Contrary to just about everyone, I liked the way Martha Raddatz asked the abortion question in last night’s debate, because it gave Joe Biden an opportunity to point out how Paul Ryan ignores the entire social justice aspect of Catholicism. [Note, this was not included in the official transcript, but it appears after Ryan says he takes issue with the Church.]

You have, on the issue of Catholic social doctrine, taken issue.

Moreover, it elicited a really weird effort from Ryan to pretend that his anti-choice stance stems from both science and dogmatic Catholicism. He did so by recalling the ultrasound where he first saw his now-daughter in the form of a bean.

RYAN: Now, you want to ask basically why I’m pro-life? It’s not simply because of my Catholic faith. That’s a factor, of course. But it’s also because of reason and science.

You know, I think about 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born, for our seven week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. A little baby was in the shape of a bean. And to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child Liza, “Bean.” Now I believe that life begins at conception.

Ryan saw what he himself implies was a bean with a heartbeat, and called it human life. That’s his basis in “science” for the belief that beans should have almost the same legal status as women who carry them in utero.

Ryan went on to claim he respects people who disagree that life begins at bean-hood and invoked the Romney current stated policy of retaining exceptions for rape, incest, and the life (but not health) of the mother.

That’s why – those are the reasons why I’m pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

Biden responded by saying he accepts the Church’s teaching, but would not impose that teaching on women who may believe something else.

Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the – the congressman. I – I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that – women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.

He then went onto call Ryan on his own stated belief that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, showing that Ryan does not, in fact, “respect those who disagree” with him on abortion.

Now with regard to the way in which the – we differ, my friend says that he – well I guess he accepts Governor Romney’s position now, because in the past he has argued that there was – there’s rape and forcible rape. He’s argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still – it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.

And this boy wonder, this guy who believes that life begins at bean-hood, this guy who the pundits claim is so smart, responded to Biden’s provocation, admitting that he does indeed believe it’s a crime for a woman to remove a bean a criminal implanted in her uterus.

All I’m saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn’t change the definition of life. That’s a principle.

You see, with the Romney-Ryan ticket, it’s not just corporations that should enjoy the same legal status women do. It’s beans too.

That’s a principle, you see.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. Casual Observer says:

    So the bottom line to this reasoning is that a woman’s rights amount to something less than a hill of beans.

  2. BeccaM says:

    Another thing worth remembering: That ‘bean’ with which Paul Ryan was so taken became that ‘bean’ only because (1) an egg was produced by his wife’s ovaries. Some hormonal contraceptives prevent those egg follicles from developing. Paul Ryan opposes the availability of those contraceptives to women.

    (2) That egg only became fertilized because he and his wife were not using physical contraceptive measures, such as a condom or a spermicidal sponge, nor was Mrs. Ryan using an IUD. Paul Ryan wants to make sure people can only get contraceptives if they can afford them, and actually, since he says his faith informs his opinions on all matters related to childbearing, he needs to be asked, “Do you agree with your Church that contraceptives are wrong? Do you, like many in your party, believe Griswold v. Connecticut was decided wrong and that states should be free to make contraceptives illegal?” (In case people were wondering, although hormonal contraceptive medications get all the attention, IUDs are also a top target by the anti-women’s forces, because IUDs function by preventing implantation.)

    (3) That fertilized egg only became that ‘bean’ because it successfully implanted in Mrs. Ryan’s uterus and managed to stay there. Not all zygotes are so lucky, and surprising numbers of them fail to gestate due to genetic errors or other reproduction problems. An estimated 60% of fertilized eggs never implant or, for whatever reason, spontaneously miscarry. If human life begins at conception and only 40% of them actually succeed in implanting in a woman’s uterus, is he implying that women are responsible for these deaths? Or perhaps his God doesn’t actually care about these failed pregnancies, because this is a simple fact of human biology? Which is it?

    In any case, Paul Ryan sees a successfully implanted and developing early fetus. Bully for him and his wife. But then he goes back and ascribes life to an egg that might never have been fertilized in the first place — and argues not only that ‘life’ begins in that moment, but that a woman has no guaranteed right to prevent fertilization from happening. Why? Because Paul Ryan’s personal religion forbids it.

    And then he has the gall to call other people disagreeing with his particular religion’s rules to be an unwarranted infringement on religious liberty.

  3. emptywheel says:

    @BeccaM: Well, all those things are true. But it appears very likely that Ryan ignores his own Church’s teaching on birth control. SO he’s a raging hypocrite in addition to imposing his bean-based “science” on the rest of us.

  4. BeccaM says:

    @emptywheel: I know what you mean, “Rules for thee, but not for me.”

    It’s standard among these hypocrites. One detail that’s often forgotten about the pre-Roe v Wade days is that those with money enough could get a safe abortion, either by bribing doctors or by traveling to countries where it was legal.

    Same deal with Connecticut’s ban on contraceptives. Just because they were illegal doesn’t mean people weren’t using them anyway — they’d just drive over to NY or Mass. Assuming they had money enough to travel.

    All of which comes back to the core truth: Whatever the restrictions on reproductive rights, it will only be the poor who have to endure the full force of them. For the middle class, it will be an inconvenience. And for the rich? No bother at all.

  5. OrionATL says:

    paul ryan is the karl rove of congress – he will lie when telling the truth would be more convenient.

    he misrepresents his own positions and those of his political opponents with a facility at lying that puts him in the top rank of amoral, power-driven politicians.

    ryan exploits his wife and daughter in the furtherance of his political future. either these may one day need an abortion for all the sensible reasons women need abortions.

    sex is a biological MANDATE for adult humans. only the female, however, can have her life permanently turned upside down by an unintended pregnancy. that anti-abortion’s true believers do not see their theology as emotional cruelty of a very high order, speaks volumes about the kind of christians they are.

    the latter half of this article by digby has some very informative numerical facts about abortion:

  6. Mauimom says:

    As far as I can tell, no one has yet congratulated Marcy on being named one of the “15 Best Tweets on the Debate” by Rolling Stone.

    It WAS her tweet relating to Paul Ryan’s “Catholic values” that stole the day, so I guess the mention is appropriate here.

    Congrats, Marcy. [And mentioned right next to the cute Chris Hayes!!!]

  7. What Constitution says:

    What? Nobody else is [fill in the blank] enough to offer up a debate summary of “Paul Ryan: Has Bean” ???? Ohhhh….

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    To be fair, the papacy has ignored social justice questions at least since it told the Latin American bishops not in juntas’ pockets to STFU and since it became preoccupied with hiding sexual predation among its clergy.

    And, yes, the church still seems o regard women as objects whose interests can be ignored or frustrated in order to maintain male dominance. One might almost say their are vessels and ship captains, and we all know whose hand should remain on her tiller.

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