Now that Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Ryan's long history as a culture warrior is getting a fresh look. Women's groups have already honed in on his extreme anti-abortion record, which consistently has earned him a 100 percent voting approval rating from the National Right to Life Committee.
What isn't so well known about Ryan's record, though, is that one piece of legislation he supported is so extreme that it would have turned Romney's children into criminals.
The Sanctity of Human Life Act, which Ryan co-sponsored, would have enshrined the notion that life begins at fertilization in federal law, thus criminalizing in vitro fertilization—the process of creating an embryo outside of a woman's womb. In IVF, doctors typically create multiple embryos and then only implant the healthiest ones in the woman. Some of them stick and become babies, and some don't. The embryos that don't make it to the womb are either frozen for later use or destroyed. The Sanctity of Human Life Act, if passed, would make all those embryos "people" in the legal sense, so if they aren't used or don't become babies after being implanted, they would essentially become murder victims under the law.
In the more than 30 years since the world's first "test-tube baby," IVF has become a fairly common procedure and a lifeline to many infertile couples, Democrat and Republican, despite some of the thorny moral issues involved in the process. Some 60,000 babies every year are born thanks to IVF. Infertility is thought to affect some 10 to 15 percent of all couples in the US—especially those upper-class professionals who delay childbearing until their late 30s and early 40s. Infertility, in fact, is such a bipartisan problem that no fewer than three of Mitt Romney's own children have relied on the procedure to produce some of his 18 grandchildren.