Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has changed his anti-abortion stance after talking with women facing difficult circumstances in his home state.
Ryan released an op-ed on Tuesday outlining why he now supports abortion rights.
In the op-ed, published on Ohio.com, Ryan says he has gained a “deeper understanding of the complexities and emotions that accompany the difficult decisions that women and families make when confronted with these situations.”
A non-judgemental outlook is what Ryan sees now in terms of a woman’s right to choose.
“I was elected to political office at a young age, and being raised in a Catholic household, always considered myself pro-life," Ryan wrote. "My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of 'judge not, lest ye be judged.' I’ve heard firsthand from women of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this personal choice, which we should not judge.”
Ryan spoke with women from Ohio and across the nation about their various experiences, including those affected by abusive relationships, financial hardship, health scares, rape, and incest.
Following the discussions, Ryan found one thing to be “abundantly clear.”
“…The heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families,” Ryan wrote.
Since Ryan was elected to Congress in 2003, he has voted for numerous abortion restrictions, including parental notification laws, restrictions on abortion funding in health care reform, and a ban on abortions in federally funded military hospitals, reports Huffington Post.
Ryan, who is considered a potential Senate candidate, has made it very clear his views have progressed.
“No federal or state law banning abortion can honestly and fairly take into account the various circumstances that make each decision unique,” Ryan wrote.
A way Ryan sees the government playing a significant role is to give women and families the tools they need to prevent “unintended” pregnancies by expanding education and access to contraception.
Ryan calls for all to move past “ignorance, fear and — yes — discrimination against women that lead to restrictions on contraception and age-appropriate sex education.”
Ryan, who was elected at the age of 26 and is now 41, openly states his position on abortion has evolved.
“Today, I am a 41-year-old father and husband whose feelings on this issue have changed. I have come a long way since being a single, 26-year-old state senator, and I am not afraid to say that my position has evolved as my experiences have broadened, deepened and become more personal. And while I have deep respect for people on both sides of this conversation, I would be abandoning my own conscience and judgment if I held a position that I no longer believed appropriate,” Ryan wrote.
For Ryan, trust should lie in the women and families to make the best decision for themselves, not the government.
“I have come to believe that we must trust women and families — not politicians — to make the best decision for their lives,” Ryan wrote.
Ohio’s Planned Parenthood affiliate applauded Ryan’s new viewpoint.
“We are humbled by Congressman Ryan’s heartfelt commentary about a topic that is too often politicized and stigmatized,” Stephanie Kight, CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said. “We look forward to working with Congressman Ryan to ensure that all women -- no matter where they live or how much money they have -- can access the care they need without political interference."