Towards the end of last night’s extremely entertaining (I thought) Vice Presidential Debate, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Joe Biden and Paul Ryan the following question:
“We have two Catholic candidates, first time on a stage such as this, and I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion. Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country. Please talk personally about this if you could.”
Now, while I was happy to see the topic of abortion finally discussed, I kind of hate this question because it doesn’t ask about what actually matters — whether the candidates will allow their personal and religious views on abortion to influence their views on abortion policy. I don’t care if Biden and Ryan are pro-life; I care whether they’re going to lord their pro-life beliefs over my fucking uterus. Paul “My Friend Here” Ryan answered the question with a “bless your heart, isn’t that a charming story” about how his wife and he nicknamed their daughter Liza “Bean” because that’s what she looked like on the ultrasound and, blah blah blah, that’s why he’s pro-life.
But Biden, who was in fine form last night, answered the question and then brought it around to the real issue:
“With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide (doctrine ?). Life begins at conception. That’s 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 congressman.
I — I do not believe that — that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I’m not going to interfere with that.”
This prompted Ryan to respond with the Romney campaign’s views on abortion law, which, let’s face it, have been all over the place but have apparently settled on “opposing abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother,” at least this week. Raddatz then asked a good, direct followup question about whether those who believe abortion should be legal should be worried if Romney gets elected. Ryan said that “unelected judges” — i.e. the Supreme Court — shouldn’t make this decision — whether abortion is legal. Biden quickly pointed out that whoever wins the election will likely be in charge of appointing two new Supreme Court judges and that the Roe V. Wade decision is that close to possibly being overturned.
And there you have it. You can watch the whole exchange above and check out a full transcript of the debate here.