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Paul Ryan’s Missing Children and Mitt Romney’s Forbidden Grandchildren

Written by Carole Joffe for RH Reality Check.This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna, have three very cute young children. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, are the parents of five grown sons and the proud grandparents of eighteen.  Normally, beyond supplying the requisite photo ops to assure voters that the presidential ticket is composed of "good family men" (or women), the actual number of individuals in such candidates' family does not gather much attention. Normally, moreover, I would not feel comfortable writing about the private reproductive choices of candidates, and especially those of their wives and children. But of course, these are hardly normal times in American politics, given the centrality of the radical agenda on reproduction in the contemporary Republican Party -- and Romney and Ryan's enthusiastic endorsement of this agenda, which if passed, would bring misery to millions of Americans.

Both Paul Ryan's relatively small family and Mitt Romney's quite large one reveal the reproductive minefields for Republican candidates who presumably are expected to show obedience, in their personal lives, to the party's extremist platform. The Ryans' reproductive choices, in particular, may also be an example of the perennial hypocrisy of politicians who do not live by the rules they seek to establish for others.

Let's consider, first, the number of children that Paul Ryan has. He and his wife married in 2000. Let us assume they have not made use of birth control in their married life (which would make Janna Ryan among the 2 percent of Catholic women who have not used contraception.) This should be a fair assumption to make, given that Ryan is a co-sponsor of a federal "Sanctity of Human Life Act," which among other things, would prohibit many forms of birth control, and he has been a firm opponent of family planning programs.

But the fact that only three children have emerged in 12 years of marriage is puzzling.


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